Steve Kerr was named NBA Head Coach of the Year this past season, which is to be expected when your team wins a record 73 games. But if it were up to LeBron James, Kerr wouldn’t have gotten the nod.
No, James would have given it to Portland’s Terry Stotts, who, despite losing four starters from the previous season, still led his team to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
“To be honest, it felt pretty good (hearing that),” Stotts said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I have a lot of respect, obviously, for LeBron and what he does and what he’s done in his career. But for him to come out and say that, it made me feel good.”
James, who made those comments in May, went on to lead Cleveland to its first NBA title, starting the playoffs 10-0 and overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.
“Obviously it’s historical,” Stotts said of the Cavaliers’ comeback. “A lot of things went into it, but when a team can do that (and win two games on the road) being down 3-1, it’s really remarkable. It just put an end to a historical season as it was with Golden State and what they did during the regular season and the way they came back against Oklahoma City. For Cleveland to do that, it was just remarkable. I thought it was a remarkable season to begin with, and it finished that way.”
While Cleveland hopes to win back-to-back championships, Golden State hopes to make it back to the Finals for a third consecutive season – this time with Kevin Durant, who shocked just about everyone with his decision to leave Oklahoma City.
“Well, my first reaction was he earned the right to be a free agent, and I know a lot of thought went into it and it wasn’t a decision that he took lightly,” Stotts said. “I know he took a lot of criticism for making that decision, but I think he earned that right to make whatever decision he felt was best for him. I think it’s going to be interesting with Golden State. Obviously defending them is going to be a challenge. They were already an extremely talented offensive team, and he’s going to make them better. They’re going to be a different team than they were last year. They’re not going to have the big guys anymore. When you lose Festus Ezeli, who’s on our team now, and Andrew Bogut and Marreese Speights, the look of their front line is going to be different. But I think they could be just as good because of what they’ll be able to do on the offensive end.”
The Warriors now have the last three MVP winners in Durant and Steph Curry. It’ll be interesting to see how they play together, sure, but are these super teams good for the league?
“I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the league; I’ve just kind of accepted that’s the way things are,” Stotts said. “I know people have made comparisons to when LeBron went to Miami. That was supposedly the first super team – and they won two championships, but it’s not like there was a five-year, seven-year run, a dynasty. So when you get on the court, you still have to play the games. Obviously Golden State is going to be very good, but you got to play an 82-game season. You got to go through four series to win a championship. I think the league does thrive on star power, whether it’s star power within a team or having a team be a star. So I don’t know. I think the league is doing extremely well. I think it’s extremely popular. I just think this is just another story that people are going to be interested in.”