All is fair in love, war, and basketball pre-game interviews. Steve Kerr is the head coach of the Golden State Warriors who are currently playing the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA Championship. Kerr had a successful career as an NBA player, wining five NBA championships before becoming a head coach. He is no stranger to this stage.
Part of coaching a team playing in the NBA Finals is dealing with a series of interviews and media requirements. During an interview prior to game four Tim Kawakami asked Steve Kerr if Andrew Bogut was going to be in the starting lineup that evening. Kerr replied by saying “There will be no changes in the starting lineup.” This wasn’t a direct answer, but it wasn’t a terribly indirect answer either. If Kerr wasn’t being completely honest, he did a good job sounding honest and limiting potential follow up questions.
Low and Behold, when the game started Andrew Bogut wasn’t in the starting lineup. The Warriors went on to win the game and Kerr took a moment to address his previous answer during the post game interview.
Take a look at the video and see what his statement says to you:
- In the very beginning of the response Kerr rubs is right wrist with his left hand as he recounts the Kawakami’s question from earlier in the day. This could be an indication that he is, at least slightly, uncomfortable with the thought that his response was not truthful.
- Right before Kerr admits that he lied he took a deep breath. This deep breath appears to indicate that he is about to share information he may not feel great about.
- When Kerr says he lies he shrugs his shoulders, nods his head, raises his left hand, his mouth smiles and his eyebrows raise. All of this seems to convey the message “What else would you have had me do.”
- Kerr continues his statement by saying he had three potential ways to answer the question. If he told the truth, he would be tipping off the other team and if he was vague, the Internet would’ve caught fire…. so he took option three and lied. It appears to be a perfectly rational response.
- Towards the end of his statement he defends his decision by saying “I don’t think they hand you the trophy, based on morality.” As Kerr says this he pulls both his elbows in closer to his body. The move appears to signify that he is defending himself verbally and physically.
- Finally Kerr closes the interview by saying “Sorry about that.” However as he apologizes he flashes a large smile, which contradicts any feelings of remorse.
This video captures a great moment of Candor. Kerr made a rational and strategic decision not to disclose his starting lineup before the game. It is a choice any coach would support. After the game he took a moment to explain his decision to the assembled media and the totality his message indicated he was proud of the decision he made, but doesn’t love the fact he was forced into a position where he had to lie in order to accomplish his goals.
There are two final lessons to take from this quick clip.
- Don’t force people to lie to you – because they will.
- Evaluate the totality of any message you receive, in the context of the situation, to determine the complete meaning of the message.
Take these lessons into any difficult conversation and you will run into less resistance, obtain more information and make more informed decisions.