Skip to content

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

May 14, 2014, 11:17 PM EDT

NCAA Men's Championship Game - Butler v UConn Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Gary Neal agrees to one-year, $2.1 million deal with Wizards

    Jul 3, 2015, 4:31 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves

    Key for the Wizards is this is a one-year deal, so they save their cap space for a Kevin Durant offer next summer.

  2. Report: D’Andre Jordan informs Knicks they are out of running

    Jul 3, 2015, 3:40 PM EDT

    DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler AP

    This was expected, now the Knicks move forward with Robin Lopez.

  3. Report: Wizards trying to trade Nene

    Jul 3, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Washington could land David West

  4. Nets adding young talent in Thomas Robinson and Shane Larkin

    Jul 3, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    Thomas Robinson, Thaddeus Young AP

    Brooklyn making most of a self-inflicted bad situation

  5. Report: David West likely to sign with Spurs or Wizards

    Jul 3, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    David West, Patty Mills AP

    If LaMarcus Aldridge signs elsewhere, San Antonio makes a lot of sense

  6. PBT Extra: Free agent signings we didn’t love

    Jul 3, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Brandon Knight AP

    In this market even if these deals are misses, they are correctable ones.

  7. Report: Wes Matthews reaches agreement to join Dallas Mavericks

    Jul 3, 2015, 2:19 AM EDT

    New York Knicks v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Sacramento had made a big push but again missed out on their target.

  8. Kenyon Martin announces retirement from professional basketball

    Jul 2, 2015, 11:31 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    Martin had hoped to return full-time last season, but the opportunity never materialized.

  9. Report: Kings offer Wes Matthews four-year deal in $64 million range

    Jul 2, 2015, 10:34 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Sacramento needs to overpay much more than that to lure free agents.

  10. Report: Robin Lopez discussing $12 million per year deal with Knicks; Lakers also a consideration

    Jul 2, 2015, 9:22 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Lopez is solid, and New York and L.A. need talent after striking out with the big names thus far.

  11. Report: Wizards trading for Bucks’ Jared Dudley

    Jul 2, 2015, 7:07 PM EDT

    Jared Dudley, Alexis Ajinca Jared Dudley, Alexis Ajinca

    The Wizards will only give up a future second-rounder.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (5650)
  2. D. Wade (4679)
  3. L. James (3577)
  4. G. Monroe (3416)
  5. J. Embiid (3279)
  1. W. Matthews (3129)
  2. K. Bryant (3118)
  3. T. Harris (3052)
  4. D. Jordan (3007)
  5. K. Love (2951)