“I would much rather have talent and expectations than a low bar with a rebidding process ahead.”
If you wanted to know why Steve Kerr chose Golden State over the New York Knicks, that quote from him at his introductory press conference on Tuesday (streamed on CSNBayArea.com) was the clearest answer he gave. Yes, there is more money and more years than New York offered. But Kerr was clear that being on the West Coast close to his family (his daughter is at Cal, his son plays basketball for San Diego State, his other son is still in high school) matters a lot to him and was a big part of his decision.
But once he decided he was in he wanted the chance to win and that’s what Golden State offered — a roster that if well managed should have them in the thick of things in the West for the next decade.
“My view is not ‘we have to win 52 games next year’ or ‘we have to get to the second round,’” Kerr said of his goals. “My view is ’What are we going to do the next decade?’ ‘What are we going to do the next five years?’ My goal is to continue this upward trend the organization is on.”
Kerr was open that he comes into a pressure filled job with no coaching experience, but said this is something he has been building up toward. He said he had developed a philosophy, a plan for being a coach, he had done it over time, but was waiting for the right time to step into that spotlight.
“This is something I have thought about for a long time,” Kerr said. “I’ve been in the NBA 26 years, now, 15 as a player, eight as a broadcaster, three as a general manager, and the greatest moments of my career have come through team building. Whether it was going to the Final Four with my teammates in Arizona or being on champion teams with Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich, it is the magic of those experiences.”
Kerr said multiple times that he thought Mark Jackson had done a good job, and added during the interview process he wanted to know why they let a successful coach go. But he added that he felt a connection.
“I felt like I was choosing between two unbelievable opportunities,” Kerr said. “The Knicks, the brand speaks for itself, Phil Jackson, he’s been one of my mentors, the thought of him guiding me through my young coaching career was enticing. There were a lot of great things about the Knicks, he laid out a great plan….
“But when I sat down with the Warriors it just clicked. It was a better fit for me on a lot of fronts….
“The most important thing I’ve learned in sports is owner/GM/coach, that troika, that relationship between those three, is critical. The relationship between those three will determine how you get through the bumps.”
He thinks that is a fit in Golden State. Also, the roster is a whole lot better than the one in New York. Kerr said he has reached out to every player and spoken to all but a couple. While the players have not been public in showing support for Kerr — out of respect to Mark Jackson, who the players wanted to stay on — Kerr said the conversations have been good.
“The reception has been fantastic,” Kerr said. “One of the reason I wanted to come here was because of the success this team has had the last couple years under Mark, and the talent base that is here, and the character that is quite obvious on the roster.”
As you would expect of a polished broadcaster, Kerr was smooth and said all the right things during his press conference. The public face of the franchise side was never going to be the side Kerr struggled with.
Can he coach? Can he lead this team to the kind of consistency and level of play he talked about in the press conference? That is the real test and it starts soon (Kerr will continue broadcasting with TNT through the end of the Western Conference Finals).