It is now official. The Golden State Warriors has acquired TNT sports analyst and ex NBA player, Steve Kerr to head their winning basketball team and will be paid a whopping $25 million on a 5 year contract. The sweet deal is significantly more than the ousted coach, Mark Jackson’s $8 million deal.
The move is nice for Kerr, a rookie coach who was also eyed by the New York Knicks. The former GM of the Phoenix Suns lives in San Diego California and has a daughter attending UC-Berkeley. Being closer to family makes the decision to stay in California more attractive than heading to New York. He is also inheriting a great team with phenomenal players – a team who has made the playoffs for two consecutive seasons.
Yet, there seems to be a lingering aroma of fish in the air.
Why would a franchise fire a coach who has successfully led the Warriors to victory to pay more than twice as much to an unknown, never been tested sports commentator?
Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers seems to think something fishy is going on too.
“Mark Jackson gets a team to multiple playoffs for the first time in a thousand years and gets fired,” Rivers said. “It’s our job. We have a tough job. Everyone knows it now more than ever. … Something has absolutely changed. I don’t know what it is. Clearly the patience has changed. I don’t know but there’s definitely a change in thinking above us and it’s hurting us.”
Could it be the role of the head coach is changing? The experience of an individual is no longer an advantage to the numbers being crunched in the front office. Instead of a coach utilizing his expertise, they have now become a high paid funnel to deliver to the players the message that the owners want to deliver.
Data crunching is a major part of our lives today, yet statistical insight and analysis is not exclusive to your friendly grocery store or an online marketing campaign – it is now a big part of the NBA. More specifically, the era of the no nonsense, “I’ll do what the numbers tell me” coach is here.
As Forbes Tom Van Riper put it:
” The fact is, Kerr is just the latest name in a trend. Novice head coaches have been sprouting up around the league in recent years, from Kevin McHale in Houston to Jason Kidd in Brooklyn along with Kerr’s predecessor at Golden State, Mark Jackson. The trend goes hand in hand with the growing influence in advanced statistics in sports. The NBA has largely caught up with baseball in that area, one outcome of which is a morphing of the head coach (or manager) position from mostly free reign of the court or field into middle management – the guy executing the data-driven strategy.”