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Steve Kerr on “agonizing” choice of Warriors: “It just felt like the right move on many levels”

May 14, 2014, 11:17 PM EDT

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It was the better basketball decision if he wanted to win quickly.

It was the decision that kept him closer to his family.

Yet Steve Kerr said his choice between being coach of the Golden State Warriors or the New York Knicks was “agonizing.” He was the first — and really only — choice of his friend Phil Jackson, he had the chance to mentor under the legendary coach.

But Kerr decided to stay on the left coast, and he explained to David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com why.

“It just felt like the right move on many levels,” Kerr said by phone Wednesday. “They have a good young team. The location is ideal. My daughter goes to Cal and plays volleyball. My oldest son is in college in San Diego and our youngest is a junior in high school. It’s just a short flight for them.”

Kerr said saying no to Jackson was brutally hard.

“It was so tantalizing on many levels,” Kerr said. “Number one, Phil Jackson. Number two, the Knicks are a flagship franchise, one of the great franchises in the league. The last two weeks have been agonizing, in talking with Phil and (general manager) Steve Mills. They’ve got really good people there and I do think they’re going to get it turned around there. The Knicks could not have been better in giving me the space to make a decision, especially when I had a game to do every other night.”

“Ultimately, it was agonizing to say no to Phil because of what I think of him and what he’s done for my career,” said Kerr, who won three titles playing for Jackson in Chicago with the Bulls. “When Phil Jackson asks you to coach the Knicks, how do you say no? I think they’re going to turn it around, but going to be a big undertaking and it’s going to take time. The idea of doing that 3,000 miles from home, it just didn’t feel right.”

When he told Jackson Tuesday he had to pursue the Golden State offer, Jackson told him to think about it and do what was in his heart.

Kerr did not say he was bringing the triangle to the Bay Area, noting he also played for Gregg Popovich in San Antonio as well as Lenny Wilkens for a while. He said all three taught ball movement and spacing and that will be reflected in what the Warriors run.

This is a roll of the dice by Golden State — they are team on the cusp of contending, they have stars such as Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala,  and they are trusting a guy with zero coaching experience (and a spotty record as a GM) to lead them to the highest levels of the sport. That’s a big gamble.

Kerr gambled too, not taking the job where he could have the cushion of time to figure everything out (nobody expects the Knicks to be all that great next season, maybe a playoff team in the East but not a real threat). In Golden State he needs to win fast and he needs to win big.

But it just felt right.

  1. campcouch - May 14, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    He didn’t agonize. It was the easier path. Hopefully it’s not the Warrior fans that will be agonizing.

    “Kerr did not say he was bringing the triangle to the Bay Area, noting he also played for Gregg Popovich in San Antonio as well as Lenny Wilkens for a while. He said all three taught ball movement and spacing and that will be reflected in what the Warriors run.”

    I’m willing to bet EVERY basketball coach on the planet teaches ball movement and spacing. He should say “four guys stand under the rim and Steph Curry you shoot threes every time”. That would be groundbreaking.

    • chicagosports2014 - May 15, 2014 at 12:19 AM

      Steve Kerr is a Bull @ heart he rather beat on NY in any way possible

    • casualcommenter - May 15, 2014 at 12:20 AM

      “I’m willing to bet EVERY basketball coach on the planet teaches ball movement and spacing.”

      “Untrue. I teach playing 2 guys who either can’t shoot (Perkins) or is a reluctant shooter (Sefolosha) in my starting lineup, never making adjustments to that starting lineup even up against teams like the Heat that are playing small, and having KD and Westbrook go iso whenever the initial set breaks down.” – Scott Brooks

      • bigmeechy74 - May 15, 2014 at 4:40 AM

        lmao exactly. I have been screaming at the tv screen “WHY IS PERKINS IN THE GAME???” in playoff crunch times for the past 3 years. I got to the point to where I don’t even like the Thunder anymore. Brooks makes them impossible to enjoy

  2. McFaddensPulledHammy - May 14, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    “The idea of doing that 3,000 miles from home, it just didn’t feel right.” Unless there wasn’t anyone else calling, then it would have felt right. Right?

    • slowclyde86 - May 15, 2014 at 5:12 AM

      I love those who rip Kerr for this decision. What would you do in your life? Take a job closer to home (let me guess, NYC, right?) with more money and a much better organization (players obviously included) or move halfway across the country to work for an organization in shambles, for a boss with no track record and an owner who is the worst in professional sports? Which would any rational person take? But sure, that makes Kerr too soft, or whatever.

      That being said, he may or may not succeed, just like any new coach, but let’s not rip him for doing what just about anyone smart what also do. Doing so makes one look, well, dumb.

      • McFaddensPulledHammy - May 15, 2014 at 9:04 PM

        Then when the Knicks came calling, say “I don’t want to move 3,000 miles away”.

  3. nykfanwakemeupin2015 - May 15, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    What a wuss. Wahhh I am too far from my family. Yes, this guy def doesn’t have the stones to handle NY and I am a little nervous the Phil is trying to hire him…..

    • apkyletexas - May 15, 2014 at 12:10 AM

      Nice. We needed some of that New-York-fake-tough-guy response.

      • casualcommenter - May 15, 2014 at 12:28 AM

        Ironically, he’s the one crying.
        He’s posted the exact same comment in every thread about Kerr, complaining about how Kerr isn’t “tough enough” for New York.

        “I never wanted him anyway, but I’m going to keep insulting him for not coming to the Knicks because…because I never wanted him anyway!!!!” *sobs*

      • money2long - May 15, 2014 at 2:44 AM

        I think u guys are mistaken about him. If u say he was criticizing Kerr while he was still free all he’s doing here is making fun of the dude’s perceived soft excuse for not coming to ny. There’s no inconsistency there. I see no reason as an onlooker to think he is the one really crying. Please enlighten me if you can.

      • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - May 15, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        I have a stalker in casual commenter. How cute. I don’t want him and I perceive his attitude as soft. Thank you for agreeing that I have been consistent in my comments…..

      • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - May 15, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        Love to know how my post can determine if I am tough or not.

    • willkill4caffeine - May 15, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      Says the guy I’d bet money doesn’t have a family of his own

  4. mogogo1 - May 15, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    Knicks dodge a bullet and Warriors management sets themselves up to fail. Going to be hard to spin it when the team does considerably worse next year.

  5. mrhonorama - May 15, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    I think Kerr did a good job with the Suns. He was willing to acknowledge that adding Shaq to the mix was a mistake and quickly made moves to get players who fit the faster pace that the team should run. He had problems with the owner and left. I think he could have succeeded with a better owner.

  6. odenxx - May 15, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    He should say :thanks phill for legitimizing me as a potential coach and thanks for letting me manipulate the Knicks .everyone is drinking the kool-aid on golden state.

  7. eugenesaxe1 - May 15, 2014 at 1:00 AM

    Translation: “They’re paying me more, and they have a better team.”

    • muathjam21 - May 15, 2014 at 1:12 AM

      AND their closer to home. So…exactly what he said.

  8. dinofrank60 - May 15, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    Wonder did he get advice from his TNT partner?

  9. abchome - May 15, 2014 at 1:19 AM

    Honestly as a non-GS fan, I feared that GS would get SVG and turn into a legitimate contender next year. They may still be a contender will Steve Kerr but I’m glad they will be rolling the dice with him.

    • innovativethinking87 - May 15, 2014 at 2:44 AM

      Exactly right. I feared them when svg nearly took the job. Now? Not so much. I’m sure Kerr will be decent I mean look at that roster, but they really could have gone with the kill. Big gamble is right.

  10. bigmeechy74 - May 15, 2014 at 4:42 AM

    The warriors screwed up when they tied up all their resources by signing andre iguadola

  11. pistolpete0903 - May 15, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    The bright lights of NY can be tempting; but remember they can be harsh as well when things are not going the Knicks way.
    I say it was smart of Kerr to go to Oakland; they have an adoring fan base, the talent (though they have to duke out in the tough Western conference) and a stable ownership. Having said that, they need to reach the Western semis (if not the Conference finals) to justify his hiring. It is quite a gamble by the Warriors.

    • divan22 - May 15, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      Give me the California sunshine over the “bright lights” of NY everyday of the week. Kerr’s a Best Coast guy who’s staying on the Best Coast, and with a far better team than the Knicks have to offer. Easy choice.

  12. Dogsweat - May 15, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Kerr will bring San Francisco a dynasty.

  13. au1978 - May 15, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    Well as many frickin teams were after him, he sure better end up being a good coach.

  14. mackcarrington - May 15, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    If it “felt right” then there shouldn’t have been any reason to “agonize” over the decision.

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