Skip to main content

Steve Kerr believes he would've been “gone in two years” if he had taken the Knicks job


It’s one of those things that, with hindsight, seem absurd, but Steve Kerr truly did have a dilemma when deciding whether to coach the Knicks or the Warriors in 2014. The newly appointed head coach of Team USA was on top of everyone’s coaching wishlist, and the Knicks were the favorites. Why? “Phil Jackson is my guy.”

Talent is everything

We can all say with certainty Steve Kerr made the right call. At the time, the Warriors were a good team, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who predicted they'd become one of the most powerful dynasties in NBA history. Steph was an impressive shooter with very concerning ankle issues, Draymond was a positionless guy who couldn't shoot, and Klay Thompson was a shooter with an embargo on dribbling the ball.

The Knicks, I will remind you, finished the '13/'14 season as the 9th team in the East with a 37-45 record. Phil Jackson became the GM of the team in March - nearing the end of that season. A week after the season was over, Jackson fired the entire coaching staff and started courting Kerr. The pitch was simple. The Zen Master as the GM, Carmelo Anthony under contract, it's the Mecca of Basketball, and James Dolan will pay as much as it takes.

“I talked to coaching friends of mine and they all said the same thing. 'Talent is everything‘' It's true. I remember saying 'Phil Jackson is my guy,' and one of my friends said, 'Which job do you think Phil would take?' Uuuufff man, that kind of got me.”

Steve Kerr, The Problem with Jon Stewart podcast

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

In the end, one of the things often mentioned was the fact Kerr wanted to be close to family, having spent so much time apart during his playing days. But, even with all the question marks, it was obvious the Warriors had a lot more talent right away, and let's be honest, ownership matters. Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are as willing to spend as much as anyone, and unlike James Dolan, they don't kick out legends of the franchise and season ticket holders out of the arena.

What if?

Kerr coached the Warriors in his first season there, so there weren't a lot of what-ifs in his mind about New York. As tantalizing the Knicks are to everyone, to be the first one to succeed where so many have failed, and to do it in the Big Apple, Kerr has an interesting point of view on his chances had he taken the job.

“Honestly, if I had taken the Knicks job I would've been spun through that cycle and gone in two years. Guaranteed.”

Steve Kerr, The Problem with Jon Stewart podcast

Knowing what we know about Jackson's GM stint, that seems like a very sensible prediction. But I don't think Kerr was aiming at that. His point was more in the direction that a lot of things have to click for a team to succeed, and if they don't, the coach is the obvious first target for change.

Kerr always pointed out the Warriors were primarily a story of player excellence and success. But the fit between coach and players is crucial for a dynasty. Kerr, Curry, Klay, and Draymond all believe basketball is an improvisational game that is rooted in joy. That's not what the Knicks are about, and that's why Golden State was the perfect choice for Steve Kerr.

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose dunks the ball against Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic

“This is my nightmare” - Goran Dragic on Derrick Rose's vicious dunk 12 years ago

Dragic has a sense of humor about one of the most memorable dunks in NBA history - “At least I'm on TV all the time.”

Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso

“The NBA told me I couldn’t” — Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso wasn't allowed to switch jersey number

Caruso wanted to honor Bill Russell, but the NBA had a surprising reason not to allow the switch.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and assistant coach Phil Handy

“This man doesn’t work hard all the time” - Lebron James’ work ethic was once questioned by an assistant coach

Phil Handy initially thought LeBron James didn't give his full effort all the time until he witnessed Zero Dark Thirty 23 in the playoffs.

Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka talks with forward Jayson Tatum

"S**t, on Twitter, like everybody else." — Jayson Tatum on how he found out about Ime Udoka's suspension

Tatum, who mentioned that he developed a close bond with Udoka, also revealed that he hasn't spoken to his head coach since the suspension was reported.