Steve Kerr’s Redemption

by May 11, 2010

Kerr is currently sitting on top of the world, but as the Arizona Republic details, it’s been one long, strange journey for him and the Suns: “The Suns’ sweep of San Antonio and advancement to the Western Conference finals suddenly has made the general manager the toast of the pro basketball community. They did it in part with the scrappy play, a longer bench and a defensive focus Kerr longed for from the start. He took a circumventive route to reach his goal, but Kerr can be at peace that his vision was sound. ‘From the beginning, I knew we had an explosive offense and an excellent team,’ said Kerr, who took over three years ago. ‘Those last four, five years under Mike (D’Antoni) were really, really good. I also knew from my own experience that defense and depth are so important.’ It was a philosophy he learned while winning five NBA titles and playing under Phil Jackson in Chicago and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. It was hard to convince D’Antoni, who was confident that his up-tempo, short-bench approach needed minimal adjustments. What followed was an unexpected parting of ways by two of the more-likeable guys in the league. The pair’s time with the Suns overlapped for just a year, preventing the two from developing “the foundation and relationship to get through that stuff,” Kerr said. ‘(D’Antoni’s departure) hurt me, because I knew a lot of it was my fault, and a lot of it was circumstantial. The NBA is weird, crazy. There is so much pressure, and that’s why it’s just critical to have strong relationship between the owner, the coach and the GM.’ That’s one reason this season has been a success. Kerr and coach Alvin Gentry shared the same vision and from the start and communicated frequently about how to get there. Throw in some personnel moves that have paid off – from acquiring Jason Richardson, Channing Frye, Jared Dudley and Lou Amundson to drafting Robin Lopez and securing Goran Dragic in a draft-day trade – and suddenly no one is talking about Shaquille O’Neal and Terry Porter anymore. ‘I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me when everyone was saying what an idiot I was, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel good to hear the good stuff now,’ he said. ‘The end result is, ‘OK, I see how this kind of works. I’m not that stupid and I’m not smart.’ I’m just pleased we’ve got a nice thing going, and I’m happy for our players.'”