It's no secret around Seattle, and the NFL for that matter, that Pete Carroll's coaching style is unique in a lot of ways. Music plays over the loudspeakers at practice, there's a basketball free-throw competition amongst players and coaches every day, and Carroll encourages his players to not only work hard on every snap they take, but to enjoy doing it. Carroll tried to do things a traditional way early on in his career, but, as Peter King put it last year, "Ultimately he formulated a blueprint that was heavy on fun and competition and taking advantage of the uniqueness of each individual."
We've seen what that culture helped produce at USC and we've seen how it's changed things here in Seattle. Now, in the NBA, are we seeing what it did for the Warriors?
Golden State tapped into Carroll's 'fun' ethos this year, and head coach Steve Kerr credited the Seahawks back in early June for helping formulate their culture. That culture helped them beat the Cavs in the NBA Finals. Per Ramona Shelburne,
Somehow, in his first year as a head coach, Kerr has managed to construct a coaching staff and an environment that's just about the most fun anyone involved has ever been around. And yet when they need to be serious, they can flip the switch instantly.
"That won't work for every team. The Spurs aren't that way. I think we just have that type of group," forward Draymond Green says. "It teeters that line. We're always loose. The start of practice is a complete circus. Basketballs are flying everywhere. You have coach trying to kick it in from half court. You have Steph [Curry] throwing the ball full court, trying to make it in.
"Guys are getting hit in the head with the basketball. It's a complete circus. And then it's right down to business. It really is. Kerr's always telling us, 'Be loose, be gunslingers, but be disciplined.'"
Kerr visited the Seahawks at VMAC last summer, and their style stuck with him. He said:
"The reason I went up there is because I want my team to play like the Seahawks," Kerr says. "They're fast and loose and disciplined all at once. I wanted to know how you achieve that."
One thing he noticed is that Carroll turned everything into a competition. So you don't just swap basketballs for footballs and tell the guys to mess around, you turn it into a passing competition. You don't just cancel practice and go bowling, you turn it into a tournament as the Warriors did before a February game in Minnesota.
"I always loved Pete Carroll," Kerr said recently. "Hated USC (Carroll's former coaching stop) but loved Pete Carroll. And loved the way his teams played. "They just won the Super Bowl. They play this fun, entertaining, energetic style. That's exactly how I want my teams to play."
"To me the X's and O's... they're an important part of coaching but a relatively small part. Eighty percent of it is just relationships and atmosphere, what your daily routine and culture is.
"Are players engaged, are they enjoying themselves, are they competing? All those principals he talked about and we talked about different ideas of ways to make those things come to life. To me that's his gift."
Sounds just like Pete Carroll, and that's no coincidence.
"It made sense to Steve on some levels," Carroll said of the Seahawks style. "And I was mostly just supporting him to be himself, find his voice and be the way he felt strongest and most confident, and that would be his best way. So whatever he's done, it's working out great."
Note that this article dropped back in the early part of the NBA season. The Warriors, obviously, rode their style to an NBA Championship.
It's pretty cool seeing other franchises and coaches sitting up and noticing that Carroll's 'rah-rah' style can pay dividends with team morale and effort. Fewer and fewer of Carroll's tenets are still thought of as 'campy,' and more and more of them are considered groundbreaking and effective.