Tag Archives: New York Knicks

NBA.F16: The Day Steve Kerr Saved the NBA

7 Jun

Silver Into Gold

The day was May 14, 2014.

That’s when word came down that much sought after NBA coaching prospect Steve Kerr, the former University of Arizona All-American under Lute Olson, member of the last US national team to take a title as amateurs (Spain ‘86), NBA champion (Bulls / Spurs), Phoenix Suns executive but drillmaster novice had opted to sign with Golden State for his first teaching gig, spurning serious overtures from the New York Knicks, their president, Kerr’s former coach in Chicago Phil Jackson and the enigma that is Carmelo Anthony. The deal: $5 million buckaroos over five (5) years.

............Kerr.wc.4.5.13.thm.Thomson200Five over five (5/5): In fractions that translates into one. One, as in, Kerr and GSW have become America’s #1 sport sensation since he took hold of Warriors’ reins, a two-year journey of joy & accolades for San Fran / Oakland area b-ball faithful and one that has appeared surprisingly easy going.

And it’s been due largely to head coach, Steve Kerr.

‘Au contraire, Monsieur, that is absurd, Curry, Thompson, Green, they are magnifique!’ That they are, Pierre, that they are.

Consider this: The year before Steve hit Oakland, Wars had a roster that was near carbon-copy of the present, at least in key cogs Curry, Thompson, Green, Bogut, Iguodala and Barnes, one orchestrated by capable coach Mark Jackson who’d turned a 23-43 club (‘11-12)) into contenders lickety-split (51-31 (‘13-14)) but then fumbled in the playoffs, bowing out 3-4 to the Clippers in Rd-1.

The magic touch Kerr displayed upon arriving at Oracle conjures images of Magic Johnson in his newly fitted ‘79-80 Lakers uniform who took title right outta’ the gate, and then Steve’s former boss and possible coaching template in Jackson who himself replaced a winning coach in Doug Collins (‘86-89). That was a Michael Jordan-led team in similar progression upward that were Eastern Conference finalists in ‘89 but seemed to be missing a championship ingredient. That’s the theory put forth, anyway.

........Jackson.Jordan.S.Lipofsky.wc.cc.97.thumb*The change in Chicagoland did produce big results with six (6) NBA titles in Jackson’s nine seasons in the Windy City, though, two seasons in mid-tenure when Mike went on a sabbatical (‘93-95) saw the zen-fullness vanish as Bulls got bounced in the semi-finals of each playoff run.

Steve does alot of things well but won’t spin straw to gold.

Steve Curry and his teammates, like those Jordan Bulls, are special talents. Just as important as super skill-set is what all champions possess mentality in ability to translate the Xs & Os of a new coach philosophy and implementing captains in command into winning, in stretches and the clutch.

Bottom-line: Great coaches need great players who can lead, and vice-versa.

It’s the vice-versa that too often gets the short-shrift as reflections upon the past will focus almost entirely upon the great athleticism of the students at expense of the dedicated and innovative teacher.

And it must be noted, great coaches need top staff who appreciate the plan and convey it in discernable terms. The names include Ron Adams, Bruce Fraser, Alvin Gentry (2015 (NO)), Jarron Collins, Keke Lyles (2015), Lachlan Penfold (trainer) and recently contracted-to-be Lakers head coach Luke Walton who served as interim HC to start this 2015-16 campaign while Kerr recuperated from back surgery, getting GSW off to a hot start and record unbeaten streak.

That date also marks the moment when fortunes of the NBA took a turn skyward, like it hitched a ride on a NASA booster rocket.

........James.K.Allison.4.27.8.smile.thm*Yes, Mr. James has been good for the game and its business end, whether based in the Forest City, Salsa City or back home to Cleveland. LeBron, with his present crew in Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving et al, or past partners in Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade et al, wins many games, personal hardware (MVPs), Conference and Association titles and conducts himself with a corporate cool kinda’ professionalism.

What Kerr & Co. have injected into the NBA’s…I wouldn’t call it a corpse exactly, but into its body of generally uninspired work where flopping, mopping (floor with poor competition) and dropping (3s at expense of the physical game) is all too common, these Warriors have been a B12 booster shot of verve & vigor.

But if you think the man with the terrific résumé and Jack Armstrong aura has always had everything served sunny-side up, think again.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1965, Steve’s father Malcolm was assassinated by Islamic terrorists in 1984 when employed as president of American University.

Enrolled in Tucson at the time and playing on Olson’s nationally-ranked Wildcats’ squads, the tragedy that must’ve shaken his world to its foundation seemed to become a source of inspiration to the underclassman who held his public emotions in check and has since taken on all challenges presented, career and family, with a focused resolve for success.

.......Kerr.wc.2.24.15.wc.thm.ref.K.Allison*So what lay ahead for Kerr and his Warriors team who are at this posting up on the Cavaliers 2-zip in their best of seven NBA.F16 series, looking to win back-to-back titles and don that dynasty regalia?

In the immediacy, it’s too early to count out Cleveland who head home to host Wednesday nite’s action (6.8) at Quicken Loans Arena. But with Cavs’ big man Kevin Love suffering a head bang in 3Q of last nite’s action on a Harrison Barnes up-the-back rebound rush prompting concussion protocol, prospects appear dimmer by the day for chances of that first elusive NBA title in the Forest City.

Warriors current title run has ‘em sittin’ pretty but series just prior they looked ugly ducks, down 1-3 vs rival OKC in Western final, has this writer thinking back to those resilient Red Sox in 2004. Down 3-zip to nemesis New York, Beaneaters got cookin’ to win the series and ride momentum in sweep over St. Louis.

In the longer view, if the Wars do hoist their 2d consecutive O’Brien, what then might be the final culmination of this masterpiece in basketball that owners Joe Lacob, Peter Guber and GM Bob Myers built, Steve Kerr & staff direct and Steve Curry & friends are implementing to near perfection these past two years?

I’ve written it before, I’m no fan of the 3-pt shot that Golden State has made a staple in their routine and works to drain the game of its natural physicality and inherent symmetry that kept balance between inside and outside games.

*.......Curry.3.2.11.wc.K.Allison.thmbBut until another high caliber club can move the Wars off their high-post pedestal, and apparently the Cavaliers, though stocked with talent, are not that team, I will show respect to the champs and find favor where I can.

Can the Warriors duplicate the Jordan-led Bulls fantastic feat of the 1990s, six titles in eight years, that most today hold out as team template for NBA greatness?

Health or durability along with roster retention are always big hurdles the Sporting Gods place as obstacles to overcome on the champions track, but nothing on the current Assc’n landscape in team nor player talent stands to say ‘no’ to the possibility, as long-shot as it appears.

Think of it: Jackson’s former player in Kerr managing an enterprise that looks to equal his own marvelous mark, a winning venture begun after Steve nixed an invite to the Big Apple from his former mentor? The Gods do love irony.

Biggest question: Will Steve Kerr get what’s due, his share of credit and just reward from fans & press for saving Adam Silver’s bacon and pulling NBA’s fat outta’ the flopalupagus fire? That’s highly doubtful.

Lacob & Gruber will give the man a raise or two but nowhere near what even your lowest paid Warriors’ starter gets in gold ($10M?). ‘Players play, coaches coach’ will be the standard spiel in denial. But Steve, his family, his friends, most of his players and basketball aficionados will know the score and that’s enough in anyone‘s book, plus the $8.5M per soon to come.

......straight_shooter.thmbSteven Keys
Straight-Shooter
Photo credit: S.Kerr, wc, 4.15.13, Thomson200; Kerr, wc, K.Allison, 2.24.15; Jordan-Jackson, wc, S.Liposky, 97; James, wc, 4.27.8, K.Allison; Kerr-referee, wc, 2.34.15, K.Allison; Curry, wc, 3.2.11, K.Allison; Straight-Shooter, produce-label.
Posted: 6.7.16 @ 12:06am EST; Copyright © 2016

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Steve Kerr: NBA Finals15’s MV-Person

20 Jun

Those poor hockey guys.

“The (Icemen) cometh,” and then goeth in a flash.

..........Kane.12.9.14.wc.L.Gansky.thmb

Blackhawks take an NHL title Monday night on home ice for the first time since FDR took on greed (’38) by besting Tampa Bay Lightning in six (4-2) to take a 3rd Stanley Cup in six years, fashioning what less stingy observers are calling a dynasty, but moved quicker through the media spotlight than a cool, summer breeze.

Added to that couldn’t-be-helped slight was what appears to be a decision of Sports Illustrated’s cover layout crew to obscure any sight of Chicago’s Indian motifs (head & tomahawks) in their supposedly celebratory but somewhat sneaky championship edition. “Clever girl(s),” and boys.

The PCBs (politically correct bullies) ‘are forever busy and need feeding.’

The Golden State Warriors, led by Assoc’n MVP Stephen Curry and 1st-yr coach Steven Kerr, won on Tuesday night their first NBA title since short-shorts, Wolverines (Pres. Ford) and Rick Barry were in vogue (‘75) by dispatching LeBron James and his short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers in same six-game set.

.........Iguodala.wc.7.14.12.T.Shelby.thb

Surprisingly, day after Warriors big win the top trending topic was not the team, star guard Curry or new golden boy of NBA coaching set Kerr (he’s 49), but the unexpected selection made for Finals most valuable player award, that going to Andre Iguodala who, prior to and start of these Finals, had been most often used in a reserve capacity.

Awarding of the championship MVP trophy in any of the four major pro sports has a long tradition, but by that same tradition will rarely receive must discussion in post-series forums beyond quick nod in respectful acknowledgment of its winner.

When MVP takes center stage, dominates dialogue you know voters mis-cast.

Once the Cavaliers took a 2 to 1 lead in the series the critical contest and key combatants became clear to this writer:

“This phase in NBA Finals.15 is, believe it or not, about Steve Kerr and LeBron James. Can Kerr figure a way for his men to frustrate the superstar for an entire game and LeBron (& David Blatt) thwart the strategy? It’s not Bucks-Celtics ’74 or Spurs-Heat ’13 but still an interesting battle of wits & wherewithal (Ahead of the Curve @KeysSteven (Twitter): “No Hyperbole” / Mannix / SI.com / 6.10).”

.........James.wc.1.25.15.E.Drost.thmb

The “battle” didn’t develop as hoped but Kerr’s altering “strategy” finding form in decision to start Andre to guard James proved a game-changer. James, this fan’s player MVP, still performed admirably in all categories but was prevented from controlling tempo and taking Curry out of rhythm as was done in G3.

They don’t give coaches the series MVP trophy but maybe they should.

Steve’s line-up change had it’s element of risk attached but turned the series around as the clear catalyst to Warriors resulting win streak (3-0).

This time blame for Forest City’s frustration can be laid on marble doorstep of the Sporting Gods who decided to make Cleveland wait another year for chance at championship when they took out Kevin Love in early playoff round.

.........Love.wc.11.21.14.K.Allison.thmb

Besides, with what Urban Meyer’s doing in the State of Ohio, the Gods don’t want to spoil the Buckeye bunch, not yet, anyway (See: Jim Harbaugh).

Had Kev played, it’s pretty fair bet the Cavaliers would’ve taken the Finals in 6G. Being the Las Vegas odds favorite to take the O’Brien in 2016 tends to validate that belief.

Biggest winners NBAF15: Warriors world, Misters Curry and Kerr.

Curry won’t be knocking James off his lofty perch as the #1 sport star anytime soon. LeBron sits pretty and weights down heavy with hardware and marketing-media mettle. But Stephen’s now got ringed “presence (“NBA15: Does Curry”)” and seems to’ve cornered the kid-market who crave cool in crazed consumerism.

........Kerr.wc.JM.Rosenfeld.2.2.08;thmb

As for Steven, he’s got a long way to go to overtake graybeard guru greats in Popovich (Spurs) and former mentor, Phil Jackson, but is so laden with likeability that it really doesn’t matter much how many more titles he may take. Guy’s golden.

One caveat to Kerr’s accomplishment: Not in recent memory do I recall that there’s been an easier roadway to the NBA title. Warriors and Cavaliers cars came fully equipped with EZ-Pass® in hand. Memphis put up a fight, but beyond that, ahh.

When the losing teams in both Conference finals (ATL/HOU) win a grand total of one (1) game combined, the quality of competition issue leaves an ignominious mark and fans deserve much better. I remember the 70s and 80s.

Biggest Losers: Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt and Knicks’ Phil Jackson

.......Jackson.1.28.07.M.Sandoval.wc.thb

It’s safe to say that the bloom has officially gone off Phil Jackson’s zen-ful rose.

The zenmeister hasn’t made a mindful major move since joining the Knicks in 2013. Letting his friend Steve slip through their hands pre-season seemed foreboding at the time and came home to roost. Cock-a-doodle do.

For David Blatt’s part, when the coach appears to be throwing up his hands in mid-Finals (post-G5: “Not alot you can do (on Curry)”), I can’t image what good hope players have in future moments of critical conundrum. There’s often a way, if one possesses the will, especially in these particular Finals.

......Blatt.wc.1.25.15.E.Drost.thmb

Some bemoaned LeBron when he made late series boast (“I’m the best”). But clearly, the team leader was merely keeping his game face secured on tite and reminding his ‘mates they had a chance to rebound and take the Finals. Nice try, anyway, James, who definitely does not want to be that guy who gets his coach canned.

Blatt did hit the mark on his closing statement: “It’s a good story,” the Cleveland Cavaliers 2015 season.

No doubt about it. The new Cavaliers went far, farther than many mindful NBA observers expected. And to reach the promised land and get Cleveland it’s first NBA title, LeBron needs some Love.

Just as Bird had McHale, Magic Worthy, Jordan Pippen and LeBron his friend Wade, Cleveland’s megastar needs his multi-skilled cohort in support. And there’s none better in today’s NBA than Kevin Love.

Unless unreported personality conflict(s) developed in Cleveland franchise, everything of non-rumor variety points to Kev staying put in the Forest City.

Next to LeBron, Kevin’s the best all-around in the biz, has money coming out of his ears, wants that jewel-encrusted title ring w/Cleveland motif maybe as much as does James and owner Dan Gilbert and Cleveland will be loaded for bear in 2015-16 making it the place to be.

And if the Sporting Gods are on their game in 2016, we might see a return match of these two talented teams, if the Spurs and Grizzlies fizzly, of course.

......straight_shooter.thmb

Steven Keys
Straight Shooter
Photo credits: S.Kerr, wc.cca, 2.24.15, K.Allison; P.Kane, wc, 12.9.14, L.Gansky; A.Iguodala, 7.14.12, wc; T.Shelby; L.James, wc, 1.25.15, E.Drost; K.Love, 11.21.14, wc, K.Allison; S.Kerr, wc, JM.Rosenfeld, 2.2.8; P.Jackson, wc, M.Sandoval, 1.28.7; D.Blatt, wc, 1.25.15, E.Drost; Straight.Shooter, citrus.fruit, label.
Posted: 6.19.15 @ 8:30pm; edit 6.20 @ 12:28, 10:53pm EST

Jackson Hops Anti-Redskins Bandwagon

10 Nov

Count New York Knickerbockers’ President and former player, coaching titlist Phil Jackson among the celebrities who’ve recently discovered and publicly declared a personal aversion to Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins 80+ year old motif.

On Monday, Jackson took to Twitter and threw his support behind anti-Redskinites who made a gathering outside TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota to protest Sunday’s Vikings – Redskins game in hopes of putting a feather in cap of Ray Halbritter Oneida and give boost to Nike plans for revamping the entire NFL logo landscape.

............Redskins.wc.cca.thumb

As the “really big shoooe” might say, change ($) is constant. Cha-ching.

I recall an appearance Jackson made on The Tonight Show some 20 years back when the Zen-meister was then coach at Chicago. What led him to ask, I do not remember, but Jay Leno queried the coach if he listened to Rush Limbaugh and that sort of diatribe. Phil responded, ‘No, I don’t, I’m into rational discourse,’ or something to that affect.

Phil was a different sort in those days. No bandwagoneer, he conveyed an independence of thought that gave him an aura of soulful serenity.

So long Mr. Soulful.

The fact he’s reported to have a history of coloring his locker-room comments w/Indian references makes this recent declaration no less empty when you consider a majority of rank & file tribal membership may support the Redskins moniker but remain un-polled.

Maybe back then I was confusing independence with aloofness.

...........Kerry-windsurfing.thumb

Knicks president might just be one of those people who use their talent for sport only as a means to an end. Call them technicians, akin to saberheads and pandering politicos, aka, John Kerry the wind-surfer (‘04) and President Obama b-ball enthusiast or “hack” golfer. Gotta’ write, Jordan was a little rough on the CIC. Can’t all be baseball stars, eh, Mike?

No more sporting than their Democrat counterparts, Republican celebrities don’t waste too much energy faking it on tumultuous merriment. They do plenty of that elsewhere, like hunting trips (See; Cheney ‘06) and military props (See; GW Bush ‘68 (TNAG)).

............Obama.8.26.09.P.Souza.thumb

What Phil, the anti-Redskins leadership and GOP elite all have in common is that oh-so delightful drive for dinero…mas & mas dinero. Phil is today, first & foremost, a business-man to whom sporting types, fans in particular, are nothing more than consumers.

And that plays right into today’s American marketing credo: servicing youth, the consumer-zombies, and the lowest common denominators (least discerning audience).

Limbaugh, w/help of a deregulated media industry, used radio to disseminate his demagoguery to millions in the 80s. Fox News launched w/satellite TV in the 90s and today, Phil, ESPN, Bill Simmons, Dick Sherman, PCBs (politically correct bullies) and any person or entity who seeks to rouse youthful passions into a figurative call to arms for whatever sale their pitching (logo war) will ride their celebrity on the techno-gadget wave in social media and world wide web.

All cut from the same cloth, just different ends of the bolt.

...........Jackson.1.28.07.M.Sandoval.wc.cca.thmb

Jackson’s anti-Redskins pitch is just the most recent air-ball he’s chucked of late.

His stingy, public denial last summer of the San Antonio Spurs right to the usage of the “dynasty” label was a doozy.

But it’s just one of a handful of recent misfires from the man who’s banked the Knicks’ foreseeable future on the, so far, illiquid Carmelo Anthony account. Time will tell.

For a time I’d believed it was Phil who was the real difference-maker in the Bulls and most recent Lakers’ dynasties. Now I wonder if maybe it was the other way around, that it was Jackson who was just “Hitchin’ a Ride” with Mike and Kobe. New food for thought.

This is definitely the new Phil: brassy. Change is over-rated, if you’re a “human being.”

Steven Keys
Straight Shooter
Photo credits: Jordan – Jackson, S.Lipofsky, wc.cca, 1997; Washington Redskins, wc.cca, 1972; J.Kerry windsurfing; Pres.Obama, 8.26.09, P.Souza – WH, wc.cca;
Posted: 11-9-14 @ 10:51pm; edit 11-10 @ 1:55am EST