The Unreleased Ron Adams #4: Steve Kerr’s Team Speeches, Defensive Communication

From after Game 2 of 2019 Finals

Ron Adams is the legendary assistant coach whom Steve Kerr brought with him when he began with the Warriors. I’ve always enjoyed his scholarly and thoughtful discussions of basketball.

In this little installment, he discusses Defensive Communication and whether you can learn it. Given everyone’s (or is it just my own) angst about Andrew Wiggins and coaching up his defense, I see our chat in a bit of a new light.

The Story So Far

The series of exclusive, unreleased Ron Adams chats so far:

What follows is from an exclusive chat I had with Coach Ron Adams right after Game 2 of the 2019 Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.

The Art of Team Speeches

Eric Apricot: Speaking of Phil Jackson, I seem to remember seeing film of him in timeouts. It always struck me that in timeouts he always had a very small number of words to say.

Ron Adams: Yes!

Eric Apricot: It wasn’t a long speech. Is that kind of your style too?

Ron Adams: Well, I don’t, yeah, anymore, I try to be very succinct in my speech. But I think what Steve has done, he speaks to the team the majority of the time, but Steve does this well. Steve uses some calmative words and the guys appreciate that.

The other coaches speak up, and multiple voices at times are good, because you get tired of hearing from one person.

Steve does it masterfully. He still understands what it was like as a player sitting and watching the coach. He’s very good at that. Very good memory, very good feel for that. So he never overspeaks. 

Here’s Steve Kerr talking about his old coach Phil Jackson.

Defense Communication

Eric Apricot: Defensive communication. As a player, is that something you can get better at? Is that something you can help a player get better at?

Ron Adams: It’s something you try to emphasize, it’s just imperative for good defense.

But in real life, some people are more quiet than other people. And they kind of play and think within their own shell, not externally. They stay within their own, I should say, mind. So everyone’s different. You try to get the guys who aren’t the best at speaking in pressure situations and so on, to talk better, to call out coverages better.

But as a coach, I don’t think you ever get good enough at it, you always want to be better.

Eric Apricot: Is that sort of like you take them to the side, do you ever do drills around it?

Ron Adams: Oh, in drills and so on, you coach talking.

Teammates help each other too! I mean if you’re a guard and your big guy isn’t helping you out and you’re getting hit by picks, right? You know, you’re going to tell a guy, hey you gotta start talking!

So we have those conversations. Smalls and bigs and so on. It’s one of those areas. Like defensive transition, you can never get good enough at it. 

Eric Apricot: No matter how many times you do it?

Ron Adams: You just gotta keep on working at it.

Eric Apricot: You expect Draymond or Bogut to be vocal. 

Ron Adams: They are! Both of them are.

Eric Apricot: Are there others good at being vocal?

Ron Adams: Yeah, we have some other guys on our team, but those guys are at the top of the list.


More on Ron Adams and Draymond Green’s relationship:


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