Skip to content

Warriors owner Joe Lacob on Steve Kerr: ‘I knew him through friends — and through golf, quite frankly’

May 15, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors

The Warriors fired Mark Jackson, because he didn’t fit.

They hired Steve Kerr, because he did.

I believe both those moves were made without any malicious intent and without considering race. But that doesn’t mean race didn’t play a factor.

Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group and David Aldridge of NBA.com have already written thoughtfully about the role of race in the firing of Jackson, who is black. Given how the Warriors and Kerr, who is white, have discussed their courtship, the issue should not fade silently into the background without further consideration.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob, who is white, via Sam Amick of USA Today:

“I knew him through friends — and through golf, quite frankly,” Lacob said of Kerr. “I’ve been on golf trips with Steve before, so I know him socially for many years. He’s best friends with one of my best friends and some other people, so I’ve known him, but not necessarily that close or that professionally as has been portrayed.

“He is certainly somebody who we have always liked, sort of a great, intelligent guy. So he was on our list, and when we decided to make a change he was on our short list of people who we wanted to talk to.”

Kerr, via Tim Kawakami of Talking Points:

And I’ve known Joe actually a long time through a mutual friend, a venture capitalist in the Bay Area. So we’ve been on golf trips together.

The familiarity for sure was helpful and it helped everybody relax and just sort of… be themselves.

This is how racism manifests itself.

What percentage of black families relative to white families have opportunities to belong to the type of golf clubs Lacob belongs to and plays at?

For a long time in America, country-club membership was exclusive and limited by ethnicity. Even as those walls are falling as society becomes more tolerant, that past racism still lingers as all clubs tend to attract members with previous connections, and those connections can trickle down generations.

There’s also the issue of wealth, a requirement for access to the nation’s top golf courses. Through discrimination, blacks have been denied access to housing, schools and jobs — opportunities to accumulate wealth. Without that in, blacks have fewer opportunities to make impressions on those, like Lacob, in position of power.

Personal connections matter. There’s no denying that. Kerr’s hiring proves it.

Kerr might be incredibly qualified and absolutely worthy of the job. I’m not suggesting otherwise. But his prior relationship with Lacob got his foot in the door and helped him rise to the top of the search.

When there are multiple qualified candidates, those connections matter. Kerr had a tiebreaker other candidates like Lionel Hollins did not.

There’s no easy solution. Lacob is entitled to have a coach he’s comfortable with.

Perhaps, the best solution is introspection during situations like this – Lacob consciously evaluating whether factors, even ones out of his control, have led to bias due to race. That would help ensure the Warriors have the “best” coach, whatever that means to Lacob.

Maybe that happened here. I’m not privy to Lacob’s internal dialogue.

But for Lacob to wantonly discuss his and Kerr’s friendship through golf suggests it didn’t.

Latest Posts
  1. Golden State picks up 60th win, clinches top seed in the West

    Mar 29, 2015, 12:26 AM EDT

    Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry AP

    The Golden State Warriors are the team to beat out West.

  2. NBA, Pacers issue statement in response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act law

    Mar 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Adam Silver AP

    Legislation was signed into law in Indiana last week, and has been criticized as one that could legalize discrimination.

  3. Hawks to rest all five starters Saturday after clinching East’s top seed

    Mar 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks Media Day Getty Images

    Hornets, still fighting for a playoff spot, catch a break.

  4. Stan Van Gundy: ‘Absolutely no chance’ Magic induct him into team Hall of Fame

    Mar 28, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Stan Van Gundy Stan Van Gundy

    Van Gundy coached five seasons in Orlando, but was fired after the way the Dwight Howard debacle played out.

  5. Warriors coach Steve Kerr: ‘I would vote for Russell Westbrook’ for MVP

    Mar 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Kerr was joking, and making light of a mini-controversy that occurred recently with the Cavaliers.

  6. Earl Clark signs 10-day contract with Nets, contributes to win over Cavaliers

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Clark played key bench minutes the same day he was signed.

  7. Stephen Curry scores 38 in Warriors’ blowout win over Grizzlies (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    Warriors keep rolling, while the Grizzlies are starting to feel like a first round loss.

  8. Kevin Love finds LeBron James for huge alley-oop slam (VIDEO)

    Mar 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    Highlight-reel play came near the end of a loss to the Nets.

  9. LeBron after Cavaliers fall to Nets: ‘You don’t chalk up losses’

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:44 PM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    LeBron refused to be dismissive of a seemingly harmless regular season loss.

  10. Shaquille O’Neal says he regrets leaving Magic for Lakers

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    Orlando Magic add Shaquille O'Neal to team's Hall of Fame Getty Images

    O’Neal made the remarks while being inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.

  11. Draymond Green launches “It’s cool Glen” line of T-shirts in latest banter between him, Doc Rivers

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    b2644bf0-d4c9-11e4-bb85-27743e449672_csg

    The battle between Green and Doc Rivers continues in the funniest of ways.

  12. Cavaliers coach David Blatt: ‘LeBron James is our MVP’

    Mar 27, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game 1 Getty Images

    Blatt knows James is unlikely to get the league-wide award this season.

  13. No Durant, what does that mean for Thunder in these playoffs? Trouble.

    Mar 27, 2015, 6:12 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

    The Thunder defense has become a mess, which is bad for the playoffs.

  14. Report: UNLV freshman guard Rashad Vaughn to enter NBA draft; Vaughn denies it

    Mar 27, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    San Jose State v UNLV Getty Images

    He is likely a middle second round pick if he comes out.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (5890)
  2. L. Aldridge (5521)
  3. K. Lowry (5369)
  4. R. Rubio (5257)
  5. G. Hayward (5242)
  1. N. Batum (5060)
  2. G. Monroe (5008)
  3. A. Shved (4953)
  4. K. Martin (4918)
  5. P. George (4911)