Steve Kerr spurned the New York Knicks last week, opting to sign with the Golden State Warriors for five years and $22 million.
The New York media covered this story as the type of lose-lose situation that only exists with the Knicks: first, the Knicks were crazy to offer a first-time head coach nearly $5 million per year, then Phil Jackson failed because a surefire superstar coach in-waiting spurned him.
Pay likely had little to do with Kerr’s decision — the Garden has never been a place where money was an object.
In reality, the decision likely came down to fit and location – just as Steve Kerr himself stated.
“Phil told me, ‘You have to feel it in your gut,’” Kerr said, which fits Phil Jackson’s Zen persona. “This was going to be a life-changing decision for me, and something was nagging at me about it.”
On Wednesday, Kerr had made up his mind and informed Jackson of his decision. “It was agonizing to tell Phil that,” Kerr said. “But Phil could not have handled it better. That’s why I was so intrigued about working with him. He has an incredible way with people. It would have been amazing to work with him, but I just couldn’t get there.”
And that’s fine. Lost in our sports fanaticism is the fact that the objects of our attention are people too – with families, and responsibilities, and preferences to boot.
I have no idea whether Kerr was the right man for the job, and no idea who the Knicks next head coach will be. But I do know there are other qualified people out there, and I trust Jackson to find them. After all, the man has more championship rings than fingers – can’t we show him a little patience?