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 EST

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. Sixers offense from bad to worse: Tony Wroten out week with sprained knee

    Nov 28, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Philadelphia 76ers Phoenix Suns v Philadelphia 76ers

    He’s the team’s leading scorer (which says a lot about the Sixers’ offense).

  2. Carmelo Anthony: Derrick Rose recruited me to Bulls

    Nov 28, 2014, 2:10 PM EST

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Melo said it came down to Bulls and Knicks

  3. NBA denies Kings’ protest

    Nov 28, 2014, 12:39 PM EST

    Ben McLemore Ben McLemore

    Grizzlies’ win upheld

  4. Russell Westbrook returns to court tonight for Thunder vs. Knicks

    Nov 28, 2014, 12:25 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    To reach the 49 wins it took to make the playoffs in the West last season, the Thunder need to go 45-21 the rest of the way.

  5. Mark Cuban still taking jabs at Derek Fisher

    Nov 28, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Derek Fisher Derek Fisher

    Mavericks own bitter about how Fisher left Dallas

  6. Rumor: Lance Stephenson was issue with Roy Hibbert, may be issue in Charlotte

    Nov 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    I’d take this rumor with a grain or 12 of salt, but…

  7. Craig Sager nearing TNT return after battle with leukemia

    Nov 27, 2014, 8:00 PM EST

    Nebraska v Baylor Getty Images

    Sager will receive clearance to fly in January.

  8. Kings coach calls DeMarcus Cousins NBA’s best big man

    Nov 27, 2014, 5:00 PM EST

    Michael Malone, DeMarcus Cousins Michael Malone, DeMarcus Cousins

    Michael Malone increases pressure on sometimes-combustible Cousins

Featured video

Could Sixers be worst team in NBA history?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (7969)
  2. K. Durant (6550)
  3. D. Howard (6236)
  4. D. Wade (6089)
  5. R. Westbrook (5174)
  1. B. Jennings (5075)
  2. R. Hibbert (5008)
  3. T. Jones (4930)
  4. R. Gay (4820)
  5. C. Anthony (4679)