Remember when there was clamor for Steve Kerr to be fired?

You know, the guy who led the Golden State Warriors to five straight NBA Finals appearances from 2015-2019 and four championships over eight years?

Well, the man at the helm of the league’s modern-day dynasty isn’t going anywhere after agreeing to a two-year, $35 million contract extension with the team Friday. 

And nor should he. 

The conversation around Kerr being fired, which was fanned after the Warriors’ second-round playoff exit last year and has extended into their current lackluster season, is the epitome of what’s wrong with the coaching ranks in the NBA. The team’s not performing well? Let’s blame the coach! The ultimate example of scapegoating. 

In many ways, Kerr is the one keeping the ship afloat despite all the tumult. 

He’s a Draymond Green whisperer. He knows how to walk Klay Thompson back from mental cliffs. He has helped unlock the freedom and joy with which Steph Curry plays. (It’s no coincidence that the length of Kerr’s contract matches what’s remaining of Curry’s.)

Kerr’s secret weapon is his ability to relate.

His superstars are feeling pressure? As a player, he won three championships alongside Michael Jordan, and another two with Tim Duncan and David Robinson. He has closely studied excellence in multiple styles and forms, having an intimate window into the minds of some of the greatest players of all time. 

His role players are feeling underappreciated? Kerr can personally relate. He was a 3-point specialist who needed to toe the tricky line of being confident in the biggest of moments to take the gutsiest of shots, with being egoless enough to know he was expendable. 

Even though Kerr has shown a unique ability to bring out the best in his players, from No. 1 to 15 on the roster, he has been under fire as the Warriors have skidded to 10th place in the Western Conference with a record of 28-26. It’s no secret that the 35-year-old Curry’s championship window is narrowing. 

So, pundits have questioned him. Articles have sprung up explaining why he should be fired. Fans have raged against him on social media. 

There’s even a petition with six signatures on called “Steve Kerr NEEDS To Be Fired.” Wrote the petition’s founder, Zach Hernandez: “His inability to develop young talent effectively, coupled with questionable game-time decisions such as untimely substitutions and poor rotation management, have been detrimental to team performance.”

The argument has been made that Kerr is tired, that he has lost his touch. There was even a report last month that rising youngster Jonathan Kuminga had lost faith in Kerr after he was benched for the final 18 minutes of a loss to the Denver Nuggets. 

But if there’s one thing we know about Kerr, it’s that he’s unafraid.

Does he fear upsetting the 21-year-old Kuminga who has a lot of promise? No. This is a guy who infamously got into a fight with Michael Jordan at a practice. A guy who has had screaming matches with Green. A guy who unapologetically speaks his mind on issues around social justice and gun control, regardless of how many people he might alienate. 

Whether it was the right call to bench Kuminga is irrelevant. The point is, he unwaveringly follows his gut, even if it’s not popular. 

So far, that has worked out pretty well for him. 

He has a .655 winning percentage, fifth-best in league history. He won his 500th game on Feb. 15. And he famously led the Warriors to 73 wins in 2015-16, the most regular-season wins in NBA history. 

This season, he has been the team’s glue as everything else has threatened to blow apart. 

When Green was indefinitely suspended in December following multiple unsportsmanlike incidents, Kerr criticized his behavior while extending him support. 

Then, amid Thompson’s shooting struggles, the guard revealed Kerr had a key talk with him, helping him refocus on gratitude as opposed to percentages. 

As for Curry, he summed up one of the many reasons he respects Kerr last season, telling NBA Sports Bay Area, “He never puts himself above or below anybody.”

Fire Kerr?

More like appreciate one of the top coaches of this generation before he disappears to a cabin in Montana like Phil Jackson, or wherever his heart desires. 

He brought together three underrated players from completely different backgrounds and helped them become brothers who have played together for 12 seasons, becoming the longest-tenured trio.

And at least for the next two years, he’ll be where he belongs. 

The leader of the most successful team of the decade. 

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

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