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. Ricky Rubio is confident Timberwolves not looking to trade him

    Sep 3, 2015, 5:09 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    The trade speculation around him is not based in reality.

  2. Report: Kings signing Eric Moreland

    Sep 3, 2015, 4:14 PM EDT

    Moreland was reportedly considering Pistons and Lakers

  3. Report: J.R. Smith’s 2015-16 salary becomes fully guaranteed Monday

    Sep 3, 2015, 2:21 PM EDT

    LeBron James, Shaun Livingston, Harrison Barnes AP

    Cavaliers craft unusual contract to give Smith a partial guarantee next season

  4. Doc Rivers says Paul Pierce chose Clippers over Celtics this summer

    Sep 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce reacts to a call by the officials in Boston Reuters

    He will be remembered as a Celtic, but Los Angeles is his hometown.

  5. It’s official: J.R. Smith re-signs with Cavaliers

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    J.R. Smith J.R. Smith

    He’s making $1.5 million less than if he opted in this season, but he does have another year.

  6. Brad Stevens hints he will explore taller, more traditional lineups

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Brad Stevens AP

    With the additions to the Celtics’ roster, this is the smart play.

  7. Report: Free agent Glen Davis to have ankle surgery, out 2-3 months

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT

    Glen Davis Glen Davis

    He could be back on the court around Thanksgiving, if a team picks him up.

  8. Dwight Howard tried to take loaded gun through airport security, will not face charges

    Sep 2, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Getty Images

    Don’t bring a loaded Glock to an airport, people. It’s pretty much common sense.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2546)
  2. K. Irving (2222)
  3. A. Davis (1915)
  4. K. Bryant (1607)
  5. L. James (1604)
  1. K. Durant (1476)
  2. A. Aminu (1454)
  3. M. Leonard (1425)
  4. T. Thompson (1380)
  5. A. Jefferson (1255)