Steve Kerr always has mentioned his desire to get to know new players as a Team USA coach on Gregg Popovich's staff. If there's one thing Kerr is looking forward to with the Tokyo Olympics around the corner, it's reuniting with one of his former players.
That former player of course is Kevin Durant.
While Kerr serves as an assistant coach, Warriors forward Draymond Green and former Golden State superstar Durant again will be teammates for the red, white and blue. Kerr can't wait.
"Thrilled to be coaching KD again," Kerr said Monday to NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai in an exclusive interview. "He gave us three amazing years. It was a wonderful relationship. I know people want to focus on the end when maybe it didn't finish so well with the injury and his departure, but everything about Kevin and his involvement in the Olympics and coaching him again, it all excites me."
The Warriors went to the NBA Finals all three years Durant played for them, winning two titles. He was named Finals MVP in those two championships with historic performances. It's reasonable to believe the Warriors would have pulled off a three-peat if it wasn't for Durant's multiple playoff injuries in his final season with the team.
After sitting out last season with a torn Achilles, Durant returned this season to the Brooklyn Nets only to average 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game, but only played 35 games to injury. In the playoffs, however, he proved once again just what a talent he is.
Golden State Warriors
With his star teammates, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, going down to injury, Durant averaged 35.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists on 42.7 minutes per game in the Nets' Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, including 49 points in Game 5 and 48 in Game 7.
"He just showed he's the most talented basketball player on earth, if not of all time," Kerr said. "Honestly. He's just so gifted. I loved coaching him, and I'm looking forward to doing so again."
The most gifted player of all time? That's a bold statement when considering, well ... Michael Jordan.
Kerr won two championships with Jordan as a teammate on the Chicago Bulls and won two more coaching Durant, so he just might have the best perspective of anyone when it comes to this debate.
"I think he's more gifted, I really do," Kerr said. "That's saying something, but Kevin is a different ... entirely different breed. He's 6-11 with guard skills, unlimited 3-point range, passing, shot-blocking -- his shot-blocking at the rim, it's just stunning. Watching him this year was really, really gratifying to see.
"You think about what he did for this organization, not only helping us win titles but to come back and try to play through injuries and then suffer the devastating Achilles injury, we all just wanted to see Kevin healthy and to see him in the playoffs playing at the level he reached, it was really, really gratifying for all of us."
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With his height, length, shooting ability and skills, it's hard to argue with Kerr's assessment of Durant.
Take it for what it is, but Durant's arsenal just might be more deadly than any player to come before him. And it will be hard to find a player with more after him, too.