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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Steve Kerr And Phil Jackson Talk About Managing Player Egos And Baking Bread

Illustration for article titled Steve Kerr And Phil Jackson Talk About Managing Player Egos And Baking Bread
Photo: Brian Bahr (Getty)

The California Sunday Magazine has published an interview with Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his old coach Phil Jackson. The two ring wearers discussed the art of coaching, including the importance of mindfulness (a lesson Carmelo Anthony certainly internalized, along with a warm glass of milk). Kerr credited Jackson with One Weird Trick To Making Coaching Advice Go Down Easier, which honestly sounds like a smart way to manage egos:

KERR: One of the things that I learned from Phil was how important it was being funny watching game film, editing stuff in from movies. Nobody I had ever played for had ever done that, and, to me, that was such an effective way of getting a message across. When you could tie together the point you’re trying to make on the basketball floor with a humorous message coming from a movie — when the message is clear and it carries over to what you’re trying to teach — you’re not having to either kiss up to the player or criticize them. You’re just telling them something, but you’re using humor. I thought that was part of Phil’s genius, and it’s something that we try to employ all the time. It’s a lot easier to do now, too, because you’ve got modern technology, and three or four people are in the video room. Phil, you did that yourself, didn’t you?

JACKSON: Yep. I did.

KERR: I’ll give you an example. Last year, we came down on a two-on-one, and Draymond Green had the ball. Steph Curry runs to the 3-point line. Draymond has a dunk if he wants it, because the defender runs to Steph, but Draymond passes up a dunk and throws it to Steph, and Steph misses the 3-pointer. I’m looking at my coaches like, “What the hell are we doing? Just please take the 2-pointer.” So what are my options to tell Draymond? How are we going to do this creatively? What we decided on the next day at practice was to show a video on playing blackjack. It was about splitting 10s, and the audio says, “Never, ever split 10s. Why would you ever give up a winning hand just to try to get two better ones?”

The message from the video was so obvious. The guys loved it, because they all like to play cards. They got a good laugh out of it, and Draymond laughed. That was to me the kind of stuff I learned from Phil — that there are different ways to get the message across, that if you’re creative enough, then they’re not going to get sick of your voice and they’re not going to get sick of you saying the same things over and over again.


Jackson sounds like he had a wonderful year of traveling and baking, as well as making bread, after getting canned by the Knicks:

JACKSON: Well, I was a resident of Montana for much of the year, but I had a film festival that I was invited to in Rome in October, and I went over there. I called my trip Razor’s Edge. It was a spiritual journey. I wanted to make the most of it, so I took in a lot of Roman Catholic history. I visited the Vatican and lots of churches. Later, I went to Buddhist Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. I ended up being gone for a little more than five weeks on that trip. I came back to Montana in mid-March and have been here since. It was an interesting year, a very interesting year. I did things like bake bread. I don’t watch much basketball, but I did watch your team, and I did watch the end of the playoffs, the last two segments of the East and West finals.

KERR: Yeah, you called with some advice on Chris Paul that was helpful.

That advice was probably along the lines of, “Make sure he gets a debilitating hamstring injury.”


[California Sunday Magazine]

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