Warriors' Steve Kerr Explains Why Youth Basketball Players Should Play Soccer

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2019

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 30: Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors smiles and talks to the media during a press conference before Game One of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors on May 30, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes a soccer background could create better basketball players.

He explained his logic in an interview with Men in Blazers (h/t Cassandra Negley of Yahoo Sports):

Men in Blazers @MenInBlazers

.@warriors head coach @SteveKerr says that if he was head of American basketball, he would have all players start on the football pitch. The Men in Blazers Steve Kerr Special airs TODAY after #LIVMCI at 3pm ET on NBCSN. @NBCSportsSoccer @NBCSAuthentic https://t.co/1iyMHBlZOW

"If I were the czar of American basketball and I had to say, 'all right, I'm in charge of youth basketball in America,'" I would make every player coming through the youth basketball program play football because it translates directly. The problem in basketball today [is] the young players are coming up and they just try to beat everybody one-on-one with the dribble. They're unbelievably gifted dribbling the ball, but they don't understand the pass and the move. Which is what football would teach them."

Kerr argued that players with soccer backgrounds are better passers, citing Steve Nash and Toni Kukoc as examples.

Kukoc was one of Kerr's teammates for five years with the Chicago Bulls and apparently showcased his juggling skills in his spare time. The son of a soccer goalie, the Croatian played the sport in his youth. He was also known as an elite passer for a big man, averaging 4.2 assists per game during his time in Chicago as a 6'10" forward.

Meanwhile, Nash is one of the best passers of all time, averaging 8.5 assists per game in his career on his way to two MVP awards and a spot in the Hall of Fame. The Canadian also grew up playing soccer and is currently an analyst for Turner Sports covering the UEFA Champions League.

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Other top NBA stars have spent time on the pitch earlier in their playing careers, including Kobe Bryant, who has also credited the sport for helping him at basketball.

"You see things in multiple combinations," Bryant said in 2016, per Shahan Ahmed of Yahoo Sports. "And growing up playing (soccer), my eye and my brain became accustomed to seeing those combinations in threes and fours versus one and two."

Perhaps other young athletes will follow this lead and turn themselves into elite playmakers on the court.

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