Kerr Says Knicks’ Chance of Hiring Him as Coach Fell on TV Trips

Steve Kerr said he might have become the coach of the New York Knicks, instead of the Golden State Warriors, if not for his non-stop travel during the National Basketball Association playoffs as a TNT network commentator.

Kerr said yesterday at his introductory news conference with the Warriors that he had been speaking with the Knicks, and team President Phil Jackson, for at least two weeks before he had contact with the Warriors.

Kerr, 48, had been considered the front-runner to be hired as Knicks coach. He won three straight NBA titles as a player with the Jackson-coached 1990s Chicago Bulls.

“Working for TNT on the road 19 straight days, I was never able to visit the Knicks’ facility,” Kerr told reporters. “Phil and I were talking throughout the process. I think the process with New York was probably stunted a little bit by the workload.”

Warriors owner Joe Lacob, a partner at Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said in an interview following the news conference that Golden State didn’t know after its three-hour interview with Kerr whether he would be willing to spurn the Knicks and Jackson.

“We sat down right after that meeting and we said this guy is fantastic, and if we can take him away from the Knicks, we’ll do it,” Lacob said. “We knew there was a very capable competitor out there, especially with Steve’s relationship with Phil Jackson.”

Kerr chose the Warriors, who went 51-31 this season and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, over a Knicks team that failed to make the postseason.

Family Connections

Kerr, who grew up in Southern California and now lives in San Diego, has a daughter at the University of California at Berkeley, close to the Warriors’ home in Oakland.

The Warriors did not give contract details. ESPN, citing people it did not identify, reported he got a five-year, $25 million deal.

The Warriors earlier this month fired coach Mark Jackson after three seasons. The Knicks, who made Phil Jackson their president in mid-March, have been looking for a coach since firing Mike Woodson in April.

Kerr said he liked the idea of working with Phil Jackson, but being near his family was a bigger factor.

“In the end, I felt like I was choosing between two fantastic opportunities,” he said. “The thought of him guiding me through my young coaching career was enticing. I’m convinced Phil is going to make it work in New York.”

The Warriors were not convinced they had successfully wooed Kerr, even after flying to Oklahoma City -- where Kerr was working a series for Time Warner Inc.’s TNT network -- to interview him.

“We actually were five minutes away from flying to another city to meet with another candidate if he went to the Knicks,” Warriors General Manager Bob Myers said at the news conference.

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