- Steve Kerr has turned down Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks to become the next coach of the Golden State Warriors. A month ago, I wrote about why Steve Kerr should wait and see if other more attractive jobs open up. I argued that the Knicks job wasn’t good enough for a first time coach to accept right away. Kerr is one of the smartest basketball minds in this business — it wasn’t a surprise that he waited for more offers and ultimately took a better job. I don’t need to tell you that the Warriors have way more talent than the Knicks. It’s not even worth talking about.
Kerr has a tough task ahead of him though. He is inheriting a 51-win team with a lot of expectations. He’s also replacing Mark Jackson who was beloved by the players. Many believe Jackson only got fired in the wake of mounting tension between him and the front office, not because of his performance. Not a single Golden State player has tweeted or said anything about welcoming Kerr as their new coach, purportedly out of respect for Jackson. That is not to say Warriors players don’t welcome Kerr, but it tells you how much Jackson meant to the players.
For players, moving forward isn’t going to be easy. The Warriors won 51 games last year, their best season in 22 years, since the 1991-92 season when they went 55-27. Jackson embodied stability and winning, and he deserves a lot of credit for improving the franchise as a whole. But I don’t doubt that Golden State players will give Kerr a chance to build a good relationship with them. Players understand this is a business. Losing a beloved teammate or coach is something they experience day in and day out. It will be up to Kerr to find a way to approach them, challenge them, get the most out of them and push them. If success comes, players will quickly forget about Jackson.