Programming note: Warriors-Blazers Game 4 coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.
PORTLAND — Though this undoubtedly is a crisis for Steve Kerr, whose body is putting up such angry protest that he is pulling out of playoff games, it’s no emergency for the Warriors.
No matter what you think of Mike Brown as a basketball coach, and opinions do vary, his ascension to acting head coach in Kerr’s absence does not sink the championship aspirations of the team.
What it does, more than anything, is create leadership opportunities for such accomplished veterans as Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.
What it also does is provide a deeper glimpse into one of the most democratic coaching operations in sports.
“The way things work here, it’s pretty unusual,” Brown told NBCSportsBayArea.com. “Everybody is involved. Everybody -- coaches, players, staff, anybody with an idea -- has a voice. Steve has created an environment where everyone is comfortable speaking up about anything.”
Not only is everyone comfortable, but Kerr also encourages participation in the process. Whether it’s a veteran coach like Ron Adams, a staffer like Nick U’Ren, an analyst like Sammy Gelfand or a video intern like Khalid Robinson, the floor is always open to ideas and comments.
No one is ignored, and that’s not the case with every coach in any sport.
The Warriors understand they operate in a special space, which is part of the reason they’ve spent three years thriving at such an incredible pace. And that doesn’t change because Brown is the guy standing up to call timeouts.
Consider a scene from Game 3 Saturday night. With the Warriors down eight in the final minute of the first quarter, Green picked up his second foul. That typically calls for a substation. And Brown was ready to insert Klay Thompson, but then caught sight of Green saying he would be fine.
Thompson returned to his seat, Green finished the quarter -- and was on the court again to open the second quarter.
“That just goes to show the trust that our coaching staff has in us,” Green said. “There are so many times you see guys wave a coach off . . . and they’ll still take them out. But that’s the trust our coaching staff has in us. And I know if I wave to stay in, I can’t pick up that third foul. It’s a two-way street. They have the trust in us to allow us to stay in in a situation like that, and we’ve got to make sure that we don’t mess them over and pick up that third foul, and then we’re out for the rest of the half.
“So I think it was great by him and the rest of the coaching staff to have that trust. It’s on us to hold up our end of the bargain and not get that third foul.”
Green, by the way, didn’t pick up his third foul until the fourth quarter. That was long after he played such ridiculously good third-quarter defense -- 0 points while posting a plus-12 over 12 minutes -- that the Warriors wiped out a double-digit deficit.
Brown has learned to trust the player, just as Kerr trusts his players. It’s standard operation for this bunch, and Brown, a three-time NBA head coach, has seen enough not to deviate.
“The group, as a whole, understands what he wants,” Brown said of Kerr. “It makes it easy for a guy like me to just be a part.”
This is Kerr’s team, and Brown knows it. Brown wasn’t hired to coach the Warriors, and nobody understands this better than he. He wasn’t asked to come in and lay groundwork, to put his stamp on the roster or the playbook or video presentation or determine franchise direction.
His job, for as long as he is acting head coach, is to maintain status quo. And, maybe, if circumstances call for it, consider a wrinkle every now and then, as he would if he were standing next to Kerr.
Keep in mind that Kerr, who attended morning shootaround ahead of Game 4 Monday night, is not walking away. Though he does not plan to be on the bench for a while, he’ll continue to prepare and get into the ears of players and staff.
So this is not a crisis for the Warriors. Though they’d like to get Kerr back as soon as possible, they also believe the system he has built has tremendous self-sustaining qualities.
Brown has been around the game, seen enough organizations, to know this is about as good as it gets.