By: Rob Botts
His former head coach and mentor to an extent, Phil Jackson, was calling him to New York city to become his new head coach last off season. The “Zen Master” wanted his former dead eye shooting guard from their championship Chicago Bulls days together because of a couple of reasons. One, Steve Kerr was a very intelligent, witty and socially engaging person on many different levels. He would be a perfect match for that arrogant, combative and sarcastic New York sports media that was sharpening their collective dinner knives to carve up the on the court turkey that Phil was getting ready to serve everybody. Two and most importantly, Kerr was his “his” guy. The coaching trunk can provide great strength and growth for the new branches seeking for their own identity while maintaining the same genesis.
After Marc Jackson’s dismissal as head basketball coach for the Golden State Warriors last year, the bay area squad was very, very interested in having a certain golden haired boy take them to the promised land. Marc had taken them as far as he could. Or that is at least how upper management felt about it. Under their former head coach there were too many isolations in the half court and their defense was lacking scheme.
Everyone across the land identified the New York Knicks job as the one that would take the most courage to take. The task would be daunting and equivalent to running up a hill with an elephant that had a piano strapped to it’s back, strapped to your back. Oh, and the hill would be made up of quick sand. If you won double digits games it would be a miracle and you would have a mountain of excuses to select from when the seat eventually got scalding hot. It was a lose – win for the new headman in every way.
The situation in Oakland was the exact opposite. Talent at every position. In particular at the point and shooting guard spots. You had two of the greatest shooters this league or any league has ever seen in the “Splash Brothers” of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Then you had scrappers like Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green along with a bruising center in Andrew Bogut on defense. The pick ups of Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa didn’t hurt either. You know what did hurt? The ear drums of opposing teams when they had to play at the loudest arena in all of basketball. Heck, maybe in all of sports. These Warrior fans would give the 12th man up in Seattle a run for their money.
The former shooting guard, general manager and soon to be coach at the time, had a decision to make. The more courageous decision was to take the Golden State Warriors gig. And Kerr did. Why was it more courageous? Well, anyone who was about to start roaming the sidelines for this extremely talented group of dudes, would be expected to win the NBA title right away. Anything short of that would be an absolute failure. There would need to be adjustments made to the rotation along with finding the right substitution patterns that would get the best out of the team. And of course, blending and massaging those NBA star games together into one cohesive unit. It was all there. Ready for one Steve Kerr. There were no excuses. Forget that mountain of said excuses that was handed to you on a sliver platter back east. You would be lucky if you found one buried deep within a mole hill in the northern California area. This team was microwave for 30 – 60 seconds and BEEP! You’re done. Please allow one minute to cool and you’ve got your 2015 World Championship to dine on for the rest of your lives.
That’s how it appeared to everybody in the civilized world. A lay up for the former jump shooting sniper. Easy peasy. Perception became reality. To make a great meal you need great ingredients and the proper cooking instructions to make it all come together. Phil Jackson understood this in Chicago and Los Angeles. By turning Phil down for the New York job, he actually followed in his former coach’s strategy footsteps. Go to the kitchen with the best ingredients and start making it all mesh. BUT, it’s all about timing as well. Doug Collins was fired by the Bulls and Phil stepped in just at the right time when MJ and the boys were starting to hit their primes. Jackson also came strolling in right after Dell Harris was shown the door by the Lakers in terms of Kobe and Shaq.
It is never easy making it all jell on any level and that is why when Kerr decided on the Golden State Warriors job, he made an utterly KERRourageous decision. And one heck of a championship cake for all to enjoy. Or crow for a lot of us.