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Steve Kerr’s toughest job: Winning over Warriors players

May 16, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

Steve Kerr Steve Kerr

The Golden State Warriors’ players loved Mark Jackson. They had bonded over basketball and religious faith, they were willing to run through walls for him.

And he got unceremoniously axed. Something he and everyone else knew was coming.

Ric Bucher points out something interesting at Bleacher Report — notice there have been no welcoming tweets, no tweets of support for Kerr from any of the Warriors players?

That’s not an accident.

“That is out of loyalty to Coach Jackson,” said the player, who requested anonymity. “It has nothing to do with Steve. Just meeting him when he worked our games, he seems like a nice guy. It has to do more with how Coach was done. Guys loved Coach Jackson. They’d run through a wall for him. It hasn’t really set in that he’s gone and someone else has been hired.”

The players’ pointed silence is about Jackson, despite their pleas that he be retained, getting axed less than 72 hours after their season ended with a first-round Game 7 loss on the road to the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s about Jackson, as a first-time coach, having to settle for a four-year, $8 million deal, while Kerr, a first-time coach, signed a five-year, $25 million package, totally guaranteed. It’s about the vast majority of the players and staff sharing Jackson’s Christian faith and attending services to hear him preach at his non-denominational church, while knowing that Kerr developed a similar bond with team owner Joe Lacob over two decades of shared golf and venture capital interests.

Of all of the obstacles in Kerr’s way as a first-time coach, this is the biggest.

It’s not that Kerr can’t coach or motivate (we don’t know), it’s not that the players dislike him. It’s that he’s not Mark Jackson.

Kerr realizes it to and talked about that with Monte Poole of

“I know I have big shoes to fill,” Kerr said Friday, speaking from his San Diego home. “Mark was very successful there and has done a great job with the players. They all appreciated him.

“But I look at that as a positive because I’m inheriting a good team. I’d rather inherit a good team with expectations than a bad team with a low bar. It’s not even close. So I’m aware there are going to be expectations. That comes with the territory. I would challenge anybody to find a job in the NBA that isn’t rife with challenges. They’re all just a little different.”

Kerr said he has talked to virtually every single player, which is a start.

What Kerr has going for him is that this team is good, and it is close to contending. The players know it. They don’t want to throw that away on a futile protest, they still want to win. Kerr can rally them around that idea, try to lift them to the next level with a new system and different energy.

Eventually he should get everyone to buy in, but it’s going to take a lot of work. That’s not all on Kerr, it’s really on owner Joe Lacob.

  1. sportsfan18 - May 16, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    These are PROFESSIONAL players…

    I’ve had several different VP’s and President’s over me… I’ve respected each one out of the gate from day one…

    A person needs to give me a reason NOT to respect them.

    It is WRONG to withhold respect from day one and not buy into what a new coach, manager etc… is trying to do.

    Professionals do NOT sit back with their arms crossed, smirk and make things that are already difficult even MORE difficult from day one.

    I was surprised when Steph Curry was as vocal as he was about what was going on with Jackson. Steph’s father Dell was a good pro and played many years in the NBA and should have been a good person to counsel his son Steph during that process.

    Now, if the team gives Kerr their backing from the get go and they buy in and things don’t pan out, well that is another story and one that is possible.

    But, if they do NOT act like highly compensated professionals and they derail the train before it even leaves the station then they don’t deserve to be PROFESSIONAL basketball players…

    These players are MEN and they need to act like it, take responsibility, be accountable, do what is expected of them at a MINIMUM…

    They are not children. Children throw temper tantrums… sadly many adults do as well…

    • realfootballfan - May 16, 2014 at 7:51 PM

      Spoken like a guy who has no clue on playing sports. It’s not the business world, which is why this is going to fail. The owner hired him because they have fun together on the golf course, lol. Do you see how stupid that is? I hope he enjoys shelling out money because he’s going to probably have to eat $15 or $20 mil of that contract because this buffoon hired someone who has absolutely no experience to take over a team that was loyal to the person who built them into a winner. And before the “GM put this team” together people come on here, they don’t coach the team, and we all know that’s an important part of the equation. It’s the same mentality that destroyed the 90’s Cowboys because Jerry Jones figured anyone could do the job just because they had gret talent. It worked for a little while, and then it all fell apart. Well, this team isn’t even on that same level talent wise in the grand scheme of things.

      • sportsfan18 - May 16, 2014 at 8:31 PM

        You say it is NOT the business world…

        The NFL, NBA and MLB is BIG Business.

        MLB players and NFL players are all MUCH better at the business side of the game than the whiny crybaby NBA players…

        There are exceptions everywhere obviously, but the NBA has too many that are coddled and receive way TOO much authority, having a say on who the next coach will be etc…

        We hear about players wanting input on who their coach will be in the NBA frequently…

        We do NOT hear about it frequently in the NFL or in MLB…

        The players don’t run the asylum in San Antonio, Pop does…

        Players may not like coach Belichick of the Pats, but Belichick is in control and it isn’t questioned.

        If the Warriors players respond and behave immaturely, they are hurting themselves, in addition to others…

        There are things we ALL have to do at work that we don’t always agree with.

        Pro sports are MOST definitely a business…

        They are a business before they are a sport… How may I say that? Hypothetically, if ALL the teams were to lose money, consistently, the NBA would eventually CEASE to exist.

        Yes, that is only a hypothetical but the “game” is making money. If they don’t make money, the “games” won’t be on TV, they won’t fly in fancy jets and receive tens of millions of dollars to play the game.

        The sport or game is simply what they do to obtain the money…

        And you say it is NOT the business world?

      • realfootballfan - May 16, 2014 at 8:45 PM

        The bottom line is that in sports, you don’t fire someone and replace them with someone who’s not better. When has it ever worked?

      • duhwighthoward - May 17, 2014 at 9:28 AM

        @realfootballfan & @sportsfan18, great debate!

        However, @sportsfan18, I’m not so sure I agree with your statement that “MLB players and NFL players are all MUCH better at the business side.”

        While I agree that MLB players have it best, with no salary cap, the highest salaries, I disagree that NFL players have it better than NBA players. In the NFL, contracts are non-guaranteed, and performanced-based. In the NBA, you could sign a max-deal, never play a game, and get paid every cent.

    • redbaronx - May 16, 2014 at 8:19 PM

      @sportsfan18 – Just because you’ve had a certain experience in your professional workplace, doesn’t mean that employees don’t understand or see office politics. And in case you didn’t read the article, the anonymous Warriors player that commented specifically said that not welcoming Kerr over Twitter had nothing to do with “withholding respect” from Kerr. Regardless of whether you’re the President or the grunt, respect is earned. So if the players have a wait and see approach, who can blame them? Their boss who they all loved was fired and despite their explicit indications that they all wanted him to stay. As employees they are no doubt feeling as if their opinion doesn’t matter.

      You can talk about being professional all you want, but the fact of the matter is that even when employees maintain professionalism, they can still take note of when their opinion is disregarded and may not perform as well, or go elsewhere.

      Whether you’re in sports or in the white collar or blue collar world, there is a way to treat employees. The Warriors way is not it.

  2. realfootballfan - May 16, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    Yea, this is going to end well.

  3. mzim2756 - May 16, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    Unproven and overpaid, recipe for disaster

  4. innovativethinking87 - May 16, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Oh boy they should be fun

  5. rrhoe - May 16, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    “It’s about Jackson, as a first-time coach, having to settle for a four-year, $8 million deal, while Kerr, a first-time coach, signed a five-year, $25 million package, totally guaranteed.” Very interesting to say the least……

    • unfly - May 16, 2014 at 10:59 PM

      Lacob has demonstrated an affinity for hooking up his friends on his new team. This was part of the reason him and MJax disagreed.

    • reesesteel23 - May 17, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      You surprised? Lol

    • derekjetersmansion - May 17, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      Brad Stevens got 6 for 22, for what it’s worth.

      • mrp0po - May 17, 2014 at 10:36 PM

        mark jackson got wronged!

  6. papichulo55 - May 16, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    It might be curious to reconcile the big differences in the terms of the contracts against the two track records. The Warrior offer to Coach Kerr was consistent with the reported offer from the Knicks. But recent news events have shown us that very successful businessmen may choose to own a basketball team for many different reasons. The actions of one owner should not cause us to start painting everything with the same brush. We can’t let that happen. We are better than that!

    • bkbell3 - May 18, 2014 at 2:49 AM

      The Knicks first offer was 3 years for 13.2mil. The Warriors entering the fray drove up the price. Kidd and Jackson had no one competing for their services except for the team that signed them. And again all three had no head coaching exp. Also every body in the world negotiates their own deal with employers and have to decide how much they want the job and how much hardball they want to play to get the dollars they want. Kerr held out on the Knicks and got lucky that waiting for awhile brought the Warriors into the mix and gave him the opportunity to drive up the price and maybe he was willing to walk away if he didn’t get the price he wanted and maybe Kidd and Jackson weren’t.

  7. unfly - May 17, 2014 at 12:16 AM


  8. ultichiva - May 17, 2014 at 2:01 AM

    No coincidence that there was no initial backlash from the NBA owners when the Donald Sterling fiasco…even the outspoken Marc Cuban was quoted as a “No Comment” these white owners do not want to rock the Good Ole Boys Club..
    8million compared to 25 million ..I hate to use an ESPN tag line BUT numbers NEVER lie…only white America does.

    • kavika6 - May 17, 2014 at 5:24 AM

      You’re a racist.

    • duhwighthoward - May 17, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      What’s Doc getting paid and who’s paying him?

    • bkbell3 - May 18, 2014 at 3:08 AM

      WHAT THE HELL does white America got to do with A BILLIONAIRE WHO HAPPENS TO BE WHITE? I’m white and i’m not rich and i don’t own a team and i’m not WHITE PEOPLE any more than your BLACK PEOPLE.Judge me by what i say and do and the content of my character and don’t paint millions of people with the same brush and i’ll give you the respect. Don’t make me do time for someone else’s crime and i’ll treat you the same way. You can’t fight racism with more racism. Millions of people of all races have spoken out and acted against Sterling and racism in the past and the present. People of all races have done and still do wrong and good people of all races have to speak out against it whether it’s spoken words or violent actions or what ever. As far as the contracts see my 2 comments above.

  9. kavika6 - May 17, 2014 at 5:24 AM

    I have no respect for Ric Bucher’s opinion after hearing him say that Portland will beat the Spurs in the second round because they have a better bench.

  10. rodyaugu - May 17, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    Just show ’em a fist full of rings.

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