OAKLAND, Calif. -- One of the first things Steve Kerr insisted after winning an NBA championship as a rookie coach last June was that he'd been lucky.
No, he wasn't agreeing with rival coach Doc Rivers' assessment that the Warriors, through no doing of their own, had been fortunate to avoid all their biggest potential potholes in the Western Conference playoffs.
Nor was it an admission that his team, which had only fared well enough to get its previous coach fired, had somehow overachieved in a flukey manner.
Rather, Kerr, a five-time champion as an NBA player after having been to a Final Four as a collegian, cited primary three sources of his so-called luck:
"They wrote the book on how to win," Kerr said of three coaches for whom he played a total of 12 seasons. "I just read it."
Laid up in bed much of the off-season following back surgery, Kerr, a two-time Pacific-10 Conference All-Academic selection, has had plenty of time to do more reading.
If such a bible as "How To Repeat As Champions" existed, well, suffice it to say Kerr wouldn't have had to pay for a signed copy.
"I'm not going to say repeating (as champs) is harder than winning the first one. That was very difficult in and of itself," he said. "I've been there. I've seen what it takes. I've witnessed it first-hand."
After playing on two Pac-10 championship teams under Olson at the University of Arizona, Kerr was a part of the Chicago Bulls' second three-peat from 1996-98 under Jackson. He also won NBA titles in 1999 and 2003 while playing for Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs.
Kerr, who retired after the 2003 season, only failed to repeat as champion once (he was traded from the Bulls to the Spurs following Chicago's 1998 title) in his playing career. That was with the Spurs in 2000, a season in which star big man Tim Duncan missed the playoffs following knee surgery.
The key to success, according Kerr, features several key elements. Among them: Having an organization that's able to retain, if not improve upon, the core of the winning roster; employing leaders who won't tolerate a championship hangover; and avoiding injuries.
"There is some luck involved," Kerr added, referring to the unpredictability of the health factor.
Kerr himself already is a victim of the injury bug. He will miss the start of the 2015-16 season as he continues to rehab his surgically repaired back. He's not sure when -- or perhaps if -- he'll return to the bench.
And while the Warriors have retained their All-Stars (guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) and almost all their most productive complementary pieces (center Andrew Bogut, forwards Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, swingman Andre Iguodala and guard Shaun Livingston), some in the West have trumped that by upgrading big-time in their quest to make Golden State a one-year wonder.
Popovich's own Spurs are one of those teams. They now employ veteran standout big men LaMarcus Aldridge and David West to fortify the foundation of Duncan, forward Kawhi Leonard, point guard Tony Parker and supersub Manu Ginobili that brought Popovich's fifth championship banner to San Antonio in 2014.
Rivers now has forwards Josh Smith and Paul Pierce, and guard Lance Stephenson, in the arsenal of a Los Angeles Clippers team that was the last to beat Golden State in the playoffs. All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and re-signed center DeAndre Jordan, are headlines-grabbing holdovers from that 2014 team.
And the Oklahoma City Thunder ranks as the most likely to use the Warriors' formula for success against them, having imported two-time collegiate championship-winning coach Billy Donovan from the University of Florida in hopes he, like Kerr, can take a playoff-tested roster to the next level.
The Houston Rockets (56), Memphis Grizzlies (55) and Portland Trail Blazers (51) are all looking for bigger and better things after matching or exceeding Golden State's win total the season before it stormed to the top.
And then there's the Dallas Mavericks, who have added star guard Deron Williams to a 50-win club, and the New Orleans Pelicans, a 45-game winner who stole Kerr's right-hand man -- and maybe some of his secrets -- when they signed on Alvin Gentry to be their coach.
The Warriors' road to the top of the mountain didn't go through San Antonio, Los Angeles or Oklahoma City last season. It's possible they'll all have dots on Golden State's map to 2016 riches.
"One thing I've learned," Kerr noted. "It's never easy.
"You make good decisions. You come to play every day like you did the year before. You hope everyone stays healthy.
"And then may the best team win."
Or in the case of this year's Western Conference champion, whoever that turns out to be, may the best team potentially earn the ultimate challenge of dealing with LeBron James, a two-time champion who is motivated by being denied a third by the Warriors, in the NBA Finals.
About 15 Western teams begin the new season Tuesday hoping they are lucky enough to earn that privilege.