Steve Kerr To Replace Gregg Popovich As Olympic Hoops Coach | Is The Warriors Coach The Best Choice?

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USA Basketball is set to announce Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr will take over for Gregg Popovich as head coach of the men’s basketball team, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Friday. Kerr will lead the team for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Paris Olympics.

Kerr has been head coach in Golden State since 2014 and guided the Warriors to three NBA titles in five Finals appearances. He was also an assistant on Pop’s gold medal-winning staff this past summer in Tokyo.

On its face, Kerr is more than qualified to be the head coach. He’s been a champion as a player and coach in the NBA. He’s learned under the game’s most brilliant minds in Mike D’Antoni, Phil Jackson, and Pop. But were there other candidates to choose from?

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Kerr’s Olympic coaching experience is limited to this summer in Tokyo. Team USA shouldn’t be reverting back to the old system of picking an assistant that was on the staff for only one Olympics run.

After the 2004 games in Athens when the U.S. failed to win the gold medal in Olympic for the first time with a roster of NBA players, Jerry Colangelo was appointed head of USA basketball to make changes. They started asking for three year commitments from players to build continuity, and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was named head coach.

From 2008-2016 Coach K led the team in Olympic and World Cup play. He was joined by Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim in ’08 and ’12, longtime NBA head coach Mike D’Antoni in ’08 and ’12 and longtime NBA head coach Nate McMillan in ’08 and ’12. There was continuity and a system.

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This isn’t a knock on Kerr’s ability, just a question as to if this was the right course of action. It seems like being head coach of the men’s team is now something that NBA coaches that have won a few titles, get to add to their résumés.

According to Woj, new managing director of USA Basketball Grant Hill has been meeting with potential candidates for several months and he believed Kerr was the best fit. Hill rounded out the staff with NBA head coaches Erik Spoelstra, Monty Williams, and Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few.

Maybe this new staff will be together for a few competition cycles and either Spoelstra or Williams will be tapped to take over?

Perhaps McMillan and D’Antoni dropped out before ’16 because they weren’t going to be tapped to take over for Coach K. Pop had long been rumored to be the successor.

It should be noted the late John Thompson (’88) and Lenny Wilkens (’96) are the only Black men to be head coaches of a men’s Olympic basketball team. This will be Monty Williams’ second stint as an assistant, so maybe he’ll be tapped next.

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Being on the short list for a coveted job like this one, is not unlike any other highly coveted job. You need to have the résumé, but you also need to be connected to the decision makers and be a part of the pool of applicants.

Let’s hope going forward that Hill and the other decision-makers continue to widen that pool.

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