As a player and coach, Steve Kerr has gone through many different generations since his first step into the world of the NBA.
Born in 1965, Kerr began his NBA career in the late 1980s until he retired in 2003. However, he never left the game and has been the Warriors’ head coach since 2014. As he prepares to get his team back to form, Competing for the championship in the 2023-2024 season, he began to realize that some of his coaching references were a little ahead of the time of his players.
Kerr joined KNBR’s Tolbert & Cobbs on Monday and shared a great story about the last time he referenced legendary coach Don Nelson and the widely known rushing attack he developed, often referred to as “Nelly Ball.”
“My pop culture references are pretty dated. Speaking of which, at the end of the book [Los Angeles] Lakers [preseason] In the game, the Lakers had 70 points in the first half and so I went down to the end of the bench and while I was playing, I said to the guys that were sitting down, I said, ‘Guys, we’re not hitting any guys.’ Things we’re trying to get better at. We are turning it around, and we are not defending anyone. We’re just trying to outdo them. It’s just Nelly Paul. That’s just Nelly Paul.
“And I didn’t think anything of it. The next day, I got a text from Lester Quiñones and he was googling Nelly Ball and he took a picture of Nelly Ball and said, ‘Coach, I had to look that up. That sign went right over my head.’ I thought to myself, “Oh my God, of course it happened. These guys weren’t even born when Nellie was coaching.” So I have to start updating my popular culture.”
Nelson first coached the Warriors from 1988 to 1995. Quiñones was born in 2000.
“Nellie Ball” was developed because Nelson wanted to speed up the pace of the game. Some may think it’s a simple concept, but Nelson actually did it. This has proven effective as well, as he is one of the winningest coaches in NBA history.
Even after retiring as a coach in 2010, Nellie Ball is still widely practiced in the basketball world. But like Quinones, some players may not know there is a name for it.
But it’s safe to say Kerr has learned to know his audience before his next team meeting.
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”