When Kerr became a GM, he sought out the advice of Gregg Popovich.
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Since the advent of fantasy basketball, everybody believes that they can be a GM. Most fans have visions of a man maniacally working deals on the phone and using a staff of MIT grads to crack stats. So in order to dispel all (most) the myths, Suns President of Basketball Operations and GM Steve Kerr told Suns.com what his days are like.
Another part of my job is communicating with the coaches and the players through every day conversation and texting. So I’ll go to practice and I’ll talk to the coaches either before or after practice to get a feel for what they’re seeing.
Maybe I’ll offer something that I’m seeing as well. That’s something that Alvin and I are very comfortable with, just sharing information and ideas as we try to help our team get better.
Every GM is different and there are different levels of communication with each one. When I was a player in the league, I had GMs that I only spoke with once a month or so and I had GMs who were around every day. I think that the dynamics are different with everybody.
As a player, I never sat there and said I would do this or that as a GM because I didn’t really know what the GM was doing, frankly. When you’re a player, you just assume the GM is scouting college players and talking about trades.
It wasn’t like I developed my philosophy (towards being a GM) playing for different teams. It’s more been, since I’ve been here, getting a feel for how everything works and making sure the relationships are smooth and that everybody is happy and productive. That’s my focus.
When I took the job with the Suns, I leaned on a lot of people for advice. John Paxson, Danny Ferry, RC Buford, Jerry Colangelo and Doug Collins have all been mentors of mine, and I spoke a lot with each of them about how to approach the job. The best piece of advice I received – and this came from everyone – was to just be yourself. As long as you’re comfortable in your own skin and you work hard and trust the people around you, you have a chance to be successful in this league.
As a player, you’re locked into your own game and your team’s progress, so you don’t stop to think about the business side of the sport very often. One of the most interesting parts of this job for me has been to learn about ticket sales and marketing and sponsorships – the lifeblood and revenue stream of any NBA organization.
We have an amazing team of people here with the Suns’ organization, and I’ve learned a ton from people like Rick Welts, our president, and John Walker, Lynn Agnello and others. It’s a great group of people that works hard and works together. I of course represent the basketball side of the Suns’ operations, and I take great pride in the fact that the business and basketball sides of the organization work hand in hand on a daily basis. That isn’t always the case in this league, where sometimes the team and the players are separate entities from the business side.
Coming into a team that was at a high level, but kind of at the end of its string in terms of being a championship contender, was kind of tricky. Dealing with the desires of the players and the coaching staff and the expectations of our fans and trying to balance that out with really trying to learn our team and getting a feel for the job itself was very difficult. Obviously, I made some mistakes and learned from them but I feel like I’m more and more comfortable and productive all the time at the job.
When it comes to the team’s playing rotation, I never told Mike (D’Antoni) who to play, and I’ll never tell Alvin who to play. I may make suggestions that are all in the spirit of getting better or I may give him an idea, but I won’t tell any coach who he has play or what he has to do. That’s his job.
My job is to support the coach and to help him through the difficult times because as tough as my job is, Alvin’s is ten-times harder. The NBA coaching job is incredibly difficult.
There is a stress level that those guys go through that’s really, really difficult to deal with. Think about the average coaching tenure in this league, and you can understand why coaches feel the heat. Whatever I can do to ease the pressure and strain off of Alvin, that’s what I need to accomplish.