Here is a link to my Wednesday column about Steve Kerr. The full text runs below:
OAKLAND – The Warriors were highly motivated to hire Steve Kerr as coach.
They introduced him Tuesday, Kerr tall, thin and fair, scholarly, even-tempered, well-spoken. General manager Bob Myers explained how he landed Kerr. Land him Myers did, outfought the Knicks. The hiring of Kerr is daring and risky — no coaching experience — but the Warriors think with him the sky’s the limit.
Please imagine Kerr and Myers sitting on high chairs on a stage in the Warriors’ gym. Imagine Myers grinning at Kerr the way a high school kid grins at his prom date. Now listen to Myers:
“When we began our search, we called Steve and we couldn’t get a meeting because Steve, true to his character, said, ‘I’ve begun the process with the Knicks and I’d like to see that through.’”
Let’s pause along the way, if you don’t mind, and look closely at Myers’ words. What did Myers reveal? That Kerr has high character — he wouldn’t double-deal the Knicks. And Kerr played hard to get. That will motivate just about anyone.
Back to Myers: “At that point, it was difficult because interviewing is a big part of the process. It really was, ‘How are we going to get the interview with Steve?’ He rebuffed us in his own polite way until he reached out and said, ‘I think I’d like to talk to you.’
“Even though it had been reported we had identified Steve, we hadn’t sat down with him at all. We finally got to do that. We asked hard questions and he answered them well.”
What kinds of hard questions, Bob?
“The obvious one was, ‘You haven’t coached before. Why you, and what are you going do if you get hired?’ That was the ultimate question. And there was some healthy skepticism to that question. ‘And how do you overcome the lack of coaching experience?’ He didn’t run from that.”
Not that he could.
Let’s pick up the narrative with Kerr. How close was he to signing with New York?
“I started down the road with the Knicks maybe a week after the regular season ended. That was my first conversation with Phil (Jackson). I spoke with the Warriors approximately two weeks later. The problem for me was I was working every other night for TNT. I was on the road 19 straight days. I was never able to visit the Knicks’ facility. I was also trying to speak to my family from on the road. The process with New York was stunted by my work.
“I felt I was choosing between two unbelievable opportunities. The Knicks’ brand speaks for itself. It’s Phil Jackson. He’s been one of my mentors. The thought of having him guiding me through my young coaching career was enticing. The Warriors, for me, it’s a better fit. I was already familiar with Bob from my days as a GM. Joe (Lacob) is a friend of a friend.
“It also meant a lot to me that my family is in California. I have two kids in college and one in high school. My daughter is right here at Cal. The balance between my family and my career has always been of the utmost importance.
“To Phil Jackson’s credit, he told me the day I sat down with the Warriors, ‘You have to feel whatever you need to feel in your heart. If that’s to come to New York, great. If that means you go there, you have to make the decision based on your gut and your heart.’ I felt it immediately with the Warriors.”
I asked Myers if Stan Van Gundy was his first choice, as had been reported.
Myers leaped on that one. “It was a little bit different than that. When we began the coaching search, we identified candidates. Steve was one of them. Stan was one of them. Unfortunately, Steve was in the process with the Knicks. We were told at that time we were not going to be able to obtain an interview with Steve, let alone hire him.
“I’ve read reports Stan was our first choice; Steve was our first choice. You don’t designate a first choice until you’ve met somebody. That’s how we went about the process.
“We interviewed Stan. The next day, we got a chance to interview Steve (in Oklahoma City). Stan went away rather quickly (to Detroit). We weren’t sure if Steve was going to continue in his direction to New York. We actually considered following the Steve meeting, flying to see another coach. We were five minutes away from doing that if we thought Steve was going in another direction.”
Cut to Lacob:
“It was a three-hour-plus meeting. You sit there with a guy. You know it when you see it. You know it when you hear it. This guy was ‘it.’ We sat down right after that meeting as a group. We looked at each other. We said, ‘This guy’s fantastic. He’s exactly what we’re looking for. If we can take him away from the Knicks, we’re going to try.
“I’ve known him socially for a long time. The other guys didn’t. They had to get to know him that way. I knew he was that kind of person that we wanted and had strength of character. The real question was how prepared he was today to be the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. What plans did he have? He knocked the socks off everybody. Incredibly prepared. He gave us a PowerPoint that was in incredible detail. I know it sounds funny talking about PowerPoint. It covered everything.
“We talked to Steve after the meeting. We called him and the whole thing happened in 24 hours.”
Twenty-four hours. Bam!
As you can see, it’s a heartwarming tale of triumph filled with emotion and family values. Kerr needs to answer just one more question.
“Steve, can you coach?”
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.