I’ve attended my fair share of Phoenix Suns press conferences these past couple of seasons, but none that I can remember had the buzz that today’s had.
Kerr was able to capture five NBA Championships as a player with both Chicago and San Antonio.
Everybody in the Suns family appeared to be down on the practice court to welcome new general manager Steve Kerr to the organization, from employees to coaches to TNT broadcaster Doug Collins. All were on hand to see a very good guy receiving a very good position with a very good franchise.
Standing with Kerr following the press conference, I began having flashbacks of all the times he’d aggravated me as a player in the past. I thought about how he had helped two of the teams I like least in the NBA to title after title after title. Sure guys like Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan contributed, but make no mistake – it’s no coincidence Kerr is the only non-Celtic in NBA history to win four consecutive NBA Championships. In fact, Kerr is only the second player ever to win back-to-back titles with two different teams.
A lot of people will state guys like Steve Kerr and Robert Horry were able to enjoy so much success in their careers simply because they joined teams that were already champion contending teams. Not once do they usually point out, however, that it’s no coincidence champion contending teams wanted guys like Kerr and Horry involved with their organization for a reason.
Talented players who double as good, hardworking teammates don’t grow on trees. Kerr may not have been putting up the numbers that All-Stars and future Hall of Famers like Jordan and Duncan were, but he was a key component nonetheless.
The former University of Arizona Wildcat, who was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1988, began his title reign in Chicago with three consecutive championships. None of which gained him more personal accolades than in 1997 when he nailed the game-winning jumper in the decisive Game 6 against Utah. Following the dismantling of the Bulls, Kerr ventured to San Antonio where the Spurs were able to capture their first title in franchise history. After a stint in Portland with the Trailblazers, Kerr returned to San Antonio prior to the 2002-03 where he would again be instrumental in the postseason – this time in the Western Conference Finals. After having dropped Game 5 against the Dallas Mavericks, the Spurs would come from 15 points down in the fourth quarter of Game 6 thanks in large part to Kerr’s four shots from beyond the three-point arc. San Antonio won the contest 79-71 and advanced to and won their second NBA Finals in franchise history. For Kerr it was his fifth and final NBA Championship as he retired at season’s end.
Winning is often an attitude well before it is a result. The Chicago Bulls teams Kerr was a part of were still to this day as good a team I’ve seen in any professional sport. The Gregg Popovich-coached Spurs may not match the Bulls in terms of dominance, but they share the same exact attitude – the attitude that if we play as a team, there isn’t anybody on this planet that can stop us.
Kerr now brings that winning attitude to Phoenix, and while the last impression you get of him is that he’s arrogant, how can you not be a little cocky when you’ve got as many championship rings as fingers on your shooting hand?
He may not have been the best player on the court during those NBA Finals games, but Kerr perhaps said it best when the Suns drafted him nearly two decades ago:
“I think I’m obviously a good shooter, that’s what everyone notices when they watch me play. What they don’t notice probably as much is the fact I know the game of basketball. I’m a good passer; I tend to make good decisions all the time on the court.”
Now with a front office position with a team on the verge of winning its first championship in franchise history, I’m sure Kerr is already thinking about making those good decisions off the court as well… Not to mention getting to work on decorating that other hand.