* Tonight on TNT: Thunder vs. Warriors, 10:30 ET
Steve Kerr has become an NBA ringleader -- he’ll get his eighth championship ring Tuesday in a ceremony moments before the defending champion Warriors tip off the 2018-19 season. He has five as a player (three with the Bulls, two with the Spurs) and three as coach of the Warriors.
Technically, Kerr ranks No. 3 in rings among those currently earning an NBA paycheck; Jerry West (a consultant with the LA Clippers) has nine and Mitch Kupchak (general manager of the Charlotte Hornets) has 10, but those are front-office types. Given his visibility and on-court impact, Kerr is building an impressive collection and it could grow, maybe enough to challenge the 11 owned by his former coach Phil Jackson. (Bill Russell also has 11.)
Kerr recently spoke to NBA.com's Shaun Powell on all things rings ...
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There’s no pecking order to my rings. They don’t all look the same, but they’re all the same kind of special.
I don’t look at a ring for that play I made in ’97 when Michael Jordan threw me the ball for that shot, or what happened in the games. When you’re part of a team, you’re part of the team, no matter what your role is or how little or how much you played. You think back to the memories of that season, and the memories usually come down to people. It’s more like, in ’96 for example, that was a 72-win team, the first year Michael was back full time, we had Dennis Rodman and all of his haircuts. Putting that team together was amazing. What an experience. That’s what that ring means to me, how crazy that whole season was.
I can say something about each team I’ve been with and each ring I won with them.
My first ring with the Spurs, I barely played in the playoffs but that ring means so much to me because I loved so many of the guys. Sean Elliott was my great friend from college, and to win a ring with Sean, I didn’t do much but I was on the team with him. And Will Purdue, I was with him in Chicago. Neither one of us played much with the Spurs but in the locker room we were like, 'Here we are together again. Got another ring!’
I’ve got five rings in a safe deposit box in San Diego, where I have a home, and a couple up here in Oakland, soon to add a third. They have yet to all meet each other. I’m looking forward to having a family reunion. I do need to bring them all together and take a photo.
I’m not a jewelry guy. I don’t wear a watch. I don’t even wear a wedding ring and I’ve been happily married for 28 years. My wife doesn’t mind. I just don’t like stuff on my hands, my wrist. I proudly show them if people ask, but I don’t really wear them.
Well, that’s not completely true. I wore them on Halloween about 13 years ago. Wore them to a party. I went as Eminem. Wore all five rings. Went with the jewelry look, along with the rest of the rapper getup. The reaction from people at the party? Utter shock and disbelief.
They get bigger and gaudier year after year. The size is just ridiculous. They’re not something to wear, they’re something to show. I remember my teammate Jud Buechler, when we were at the parade after the third Bulls title. We hadn’t gotten the next ring yet, of course. I said, 'Do you think the third will be gaudier than the first two?’ He said, 'I sure hope so.’
... When you win and the buzzer sounds and you realize you’re the champs, well, I tell our guys there’s a reason you pour champagne on your heads. It’s a feeling of relief."
At the celebration of the fifth championship, my last year with the Spurs in 2003, I brought along my other four rings. I was really doing it to make my teammates laugh, especially Stephen Jackson and Tim Duncan. I put all four on and we were at the Alamodome and it was a big scene. A stiff white guy, a suburban white kid like me talking about my bling and walking around acting like I had some game. Stephen loved it so much.
The feeling is so amazing when you win. Our guys will tell you the same thing: You want to feel it again. It’s been a nine-month haul. So much happens on a personal level and team level during that time. There’s this emotion, so much adversity. You lose playoff games and you go home feeling drained but when you win and the buzzer sounds and you realize you’re the champs, well, I tell our guys there’s a reason you pour champagne on your heads. It’s a feeling of relief.
At every ring ceremony, I always have my eyes on those guys who’ve never won a ring. Like when David West went out to the middle of the court and got his last year. And JaVale McGee. Those guys have been in the league a long time. Guys get emotional. It’s so gratifying. When you’re on a team like this one, or the Bulls in the '90s, part of the rallying cry each year — remember, you’re always searching for motivation — is, 'We’ve got to get so-and-so a ring.’ Michael Jordan talked about it all the time. This year for us it’s DeMarcus Cousins and Jonas Jerebko and maybe a few others. It would mean the world to them.
I can tell you if we are lucky enough to do it again this year, I would look at DeMarcus. That’s who I would have my eye on. This is a guy who was basically a week away from signing a max deal and then tore his Achilles, and his career all of a sudden is in flux. He’s been working his tail off for nine months. Still not out here practicing. So much frustration. I know how emotional it would be for him if we could win another title. It would be amazing and special to see his reaction when he got that ring.
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