Kerr Officially Joins Suns Front Office
Related: Press conference video | Kerr's career in photos | Lute Olson Q&A | 1988 draft interview
Kerr Officially Joins Suns Front Office
By Josh Greene, Suns.com
Posted: June 6, 2007
With a reputation as a clutch player from the outside during his 15-year NBA career, now Steve Kerr finally gets his chance to make a difference on the “inside,” too.
The former NBA sharpshooter was officially named the Suns’ new general manager and president of basketball operations Wednesday, three years after initially joining Managing Partner Robert Sarver’s investment group in purchasing the franchise and becoming a team consultant.
Playing in just 26 games for the Suns in his rookie season almost 20 years ago, it’s a safe bet the 41-year-old will make the most of his second stint in the Valley.
“I was out on the court trying to chase people around that I had no business being on the court with athletically, and I made that work,” Kerr said. “But I feel a little bit more prepared for this (career), educationally, intellectually, experience-wise. I’m not worried about Michael Jordan posting me up now that he’s working in Charlotte. Now, 10 years ago in practice I had a much more difficult time. So it’s a different venue, but it’s still competition and it’s still basketball.”
Coming off a stellar collegiate career at the University of Arizona, his pro resume lists Kerr as the most accurate career three-point shooter in NBA history, the single season record setter for three-point shooting percentage (52 percent in 1994-95) and the owner of the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals, en route to one of five career NBA Championships.
And emphasize that last item. Kerr would love nothing more to get his first crown as a member of the front office with the same team that originally drafted him out of UofA back in 1988 (50th overall).
“This team is on the verge,” Kerr said. “The last few years there have been some breaks that have gone against the Suns, but three-straight years of incredible success, being close to a championship but not quite there yet.
“I wouldn’t have taken this job if it was a disaster and we had to just rebuild everything. That would have been a difficult task, but I like the fact that we have so many assets. We have great players, and we have draft picks. We’ve got a lot of possibilities, and we’re dealing from a position of strength, which is great. As to what those moves will be, we’ll see. We have several weeks before the draft and I’m going to be here every day working on that.”
Introduced to fellow Arizona alum Sarver in 2004, Kerr’s work ethic and knowledge was more than enough to convince the Suns’ managing partner to bring the former NBA guard on board originally.
“Steve got where he got through hard work, not through gifted skills,” Sarver said. “He’s worked hard to do well. That’s a great attribute of his. He knows the league very well, and he’s a good manager of people. He communicates well. He’ll communicate well with the league, our coaching staff and our players. He’s got great leadership skills.”
In addition to retaining the services of newly named Sr. Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin, Kerr replaces Mike D’Antoni as general manager, who’s now free to focus his energies strictly on his coaching duties in 2007-08.
“This makes it the way it’s supposed to be,” D’Antoni said. “I can concentrate on basketball. I’ll still talk to Steve and David every day, and come up with some scenarios. Robert will be there and with all of us there, we’ll all work toward a championship next year. We’re close. We know that, and we’re already excited about next year.”
Thanks to his new Suns responsibilities, Kerr vacates his online NBA reporting duties for Yahoo! Sports, as well as his broadcasting role with Turner Sports, a position he has enjoyed since 2003.
“I’m really happy for him,” said longtime broadcast partner Doug Collins, who was in attendance for Wednesday's press conference. “As much as I’m going to miss having him on TNT, but Steve’s going to do great. All you have to do is track his history. He’s a winner. With everything he’s done and put his mind to, he’s been great. And I know he’ll be really, really good for this organization.
“I know the way he thinks, and I know the kind of team he wants to continue to have on the floor here in Phoenix. He wants to play an exciting style of basketball. That’s why he loves Mike so much as coach. He’s not coming here to reinvent the wheel. He’s coming to take the team to the next step and maybe win a championship. He’s very excited about that.”
Excitement is something that’s followed the GM here in the Valley, going back to his first job within the Suns' organization as a rookie guard in 1988-89.
“It was an awesome year,” Kerr said. “We won 55 games, and the team hadn’t made the playoffs the year before. I remember just being in awe of Kevin Johnson, Tom Chambers and Jeff Hornacek, and just thinking, ‘I’ve got to learn from these guys. I don’t know if I can survive out on the floor with them.’ I wasn’t sure I belonged, but practicing every day against those guys really helped me figure out what I needed to do to hang around the league.”
As for the current incarnation of his team, the Suns’ GM is undoubtedly already a fan of Phoenix's up-tempo style.
“I love this team,” he said. “I love the style of play. I’m not trying to come in here and make sweeping changes, because this is one of the best teams in the NBA already.
“The other thing is, and I can tell you this from a broadcasting standpoint, there are good teams in the NBA that I would not pay to see play. Entertainment is a huge part of this and this is an incredibly entertaining team, and a team that’s gone deep in the playoffs the last three years. When people say, ‘They can’t win this way,’ I just laugh.”