Steve Kerr takes inspiration from the World Cup: “This is how we want to play”


Did you catch Brazil’s third goal against South Korea? Warriors coach Steve Kerr did. As does the entire Warriors team.

Kerr made sure of that.

“What a spectacular goal,” Kerr told FOX Sports. “What I liked about it was the ball movement. That’s how we want to play. I wanted our boys to see that and try to emulate it.”

It was classic samba football. Brazilian Richarlison controlled a weak South Korean defense with one, two, three juggling of the ball on his head and two more on his right foot before slipping it between two defenders to Marquinho, who was waiting upstairs in the box. Richarlison then clipped on goal but let Marquinho’s one-touch back pass slide through him to Silva while Richarlison’s defender came off after the ball.

Too late.

Silva played another one-touch pass back to a wide-open Richarlison, who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

The clip of the goal was part of the Warriors’ preparation for Monday night’s encounter with the Indiana Pacers. They didn’t get the same result as the Brazilians, falling to an understaffed Indiana squad led by rookie Andrew Nembhard. who puts on his own showbut that won’t stop Kerr from continuing to watch every minute of every World Cup game, both as a fan of the sport and as a prospector looking for tactical or stylistic elements to incorporate into his game plans.

“I love seeing set pieces because it reminds me of ATOs (after time-out plays), side-out-of-bounds plays, late-game stuff,” Kerr said. “There are a lot of similarities when you look at what teams are doing. And I actually read, I don’t remember who, but that a European football coach did the same thing in reverse – that he watched NBA games and looked at ATOs for substitution ideas.”

Kerr’s soccer career didn’t extend beyond sixth grade as a midfielder for the AYSO Condors of the Pacific Palisades, but he’s a lifelong fan and recognizes that the distance, footwork and creativity of the two sports are mutually exclusive.

“There are certainly a lot of similarities, especially in attack,” he said. “I love basketball players who play soccer. I think they are a great connection. You can see the impact. (Manu) Ginobili, Toni Kukoc, (Steve) Nash – they saw angles that they might not have otherwise. They hadn’t played football that much.”

Kerr became a fan of Liverpool in the English Premier League when the team took over Egyptian star Mo Salah. Kerr’s late father, Malcolm, was a university professor specializing in the Middle East and the Arab world, and the family lived in Egypt for some time during Kerr’s youth. The Warriors coach was actually born in Beirut, Lebanon before his father took a job at UCLA and the family settled in the Palisades.

Kerr was at the University of Arizona when his father returned to the Middle East to serve as President of the American University of Beirut.

Kerr’s father was murdered in 1984.

“I watched the 2018 World Cup very closely and then started watching Liverpool because I liked Mo Salah,” he said. “They became my team just because I loved him. I lived in Egypt for a few years growing up, so I kind of have a soft spot for Egypt. So after that World Cup, I started watching the Premier League every weekend. The The quality of the game is so amazing.”

This fandom prompted Kerr to visit Liverpool’s training facility earlier this year to watch the team train and have lunch with Reds manager Jurgen Klopp. One of his off-season neighbors in San Diego, Andy Kohlberg, is the president and co-owner of RCD Mallorca, a team in Spain’s La Liga. Kerr and his wife Margot visited Mallorca on holiday in September, attending a game with Kohlberg and meeting with the team.

“It was great,” Kerr said. “They are renovating the stadium. They were a team that was relegated a couple of times. I think they were second division when they bought the team but they are building the club really well and have had an excellent season so far.” . To visit and see what they are building there and how some of these football clubs do business is really fun.”

While Kerr appreciates the artistry of the Brazilians and supported Team USA until they were eliminated by the Netherlands in the round of 16, there is no doubt who he now represents in the tournament: Morocco.

“Are you kidding me?” he laughed. “At this stage they are the Cinderella story. They’re the team in the NCAA tournament that nobody picked and somehow won the first two or three games. Morocco will be in the Elite 8! How did this happen? How cool is that? I realize it’s highly unlikely, but I’d love to see them continue.

His daughter Maddy tried to help him with his tactical analysis of the World Cup game.

“She texted me during the USA game,” he said. “She says: ‘I don’t know football that well but it seems like the Dutch strategy is to let the two guys with the man buns dribble all the way down the field because they know they can’t do anything to us.’”

Kerr laughed. Don’t expect the warriors to adopt this tactic.

“‘The Two Man Bun Guys,'” he said. “But it was true. We didn’t look good at all.”

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has authored two books, Rebound, about NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, and Yao: A Life In Two Worlds. He also has a daily podcast, On The Ball with Ric Bucher. Follow him on Twitter @Ric Bucher.

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