Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr talks to the media at the team’s practice facility in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, June 18, 2015. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)
CHICAGO – Warriors coach Steve Kerr has seen his condition improve slowly but surely, with perhaps a positive sign emerging on a chilly Tuesday night when he invited his coaching staff out to a comedy club.
Kerr, who is traveling with the team while on his leave of absence, wasn’t just feeling good enough to go to an old haunt of his on the eve of the Warriors’ game against the Bulls. Kerr, who played five seasons in Chicago, was willing – with some prodding – to go on stage during the improv session at The Second City theatre where numerous comic legends got their start.
“It’s a great sign,” said Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton, who attended the show with Kerr.
“During one of the intermissions, (cast members) asked if he’d be willing to come up on stage and take part in it. He was good up there too, showing some of his wit and being as engaged as he was. We obviously don’t try to read into anything. Whenever he’s ready, he’s ready, but that’s a good sign.”
The return of Kerr’s dry sense of humor has for months been an indicator to the coaching staff of at least some progression with his health. The on-stage appearance marked a rare public appearance for Kerr, who due to complications from offseason back surgeries has missed the first half of the regular season.
“He was hesitant a little bit about doing it, but I think he thought it’d be good,” said Warriors player development coach Bruce Fraser, a longtime friend of Kerr’s who was in attendance. “He was great. He’s witty. It was more of almost an interview. They were asking him questions that were serious, a little bit more about the team, and they would act out some of the things that came up.”
Fraser said Kerr remains “up and down” with his condition and that the night out after dinner reflects how the head coach is starting to feel better, though not necessarily that he actually is better. Kerr has been more energetic of late, traveling with the team for three of its past four road trips.
“It’s still tough to tell with him because he’s tough,” Walton said. “So even when he’s feeling bad, he still tries. He’s looked good the last couple of days. He really has, so I’m hoping he’s not just getting better at playing the part and that he’s actually feeling better.”
At least for one night, Kerr played an impromptu part on stage in spotlight theatre lighting when asked to join the show.
“He was like ‘sure’ with a little egging on from us,” Walton said with a laugh.
How soon will Kerr, who has offered no timetable, return to coaching?
“Hopefully soon he’ll be running the show again,” Walton said.