After the Warriors moved on from Mark Jackson as head coach in 2014, the search narrowed on two final candidates: former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and then-TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr.
Former Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk was part of the team that interviewed both contenders and says the front office at one point wasn’t sure they’d even get a chance to sit down with Kerr during the process.
“We didn’t think that we were going to even have an opportunity to really sit down and talk with Steve.”— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) May 20, 2020
Former @warriors Travis Schlenk recalls a time when the Warriors were sure @SteveKerr was going to go to New York 🗽 pic.twitter.com/LdJdxE85yl
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“Steve was being courted very hard by Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks,” Schlenk said last week on 95.7 The Game. “And at one point during the process, it felt like that’s where he was going to go. And so we didn’t think that we were going to even have an opportunity to really sit down and talk with Steve.
“And I believe it was while we were meeting with Stan down in Orlando, that Steve called Bob and said he kinda had a change of heart and he wanted to meet with us.”
Kerr’s relationship with Jackson went all the way back to their days with Michael Jordan and the Bulls, which America just got to relive through ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary series.
Van Gundy ultimately chose the Detroit Pistons, giving him an opportunity to oversee basketball operations as well as coach the team. Reports at the time indicated the Warriors were not willing to give Van Gundy the same universal control over basketball decision-making.
It’s safe to say Schlenk and the Warriors got the right guy, as Kerr helped bring three NBA championships to the Bay Area and the team’s success eventually led Schlenk to taking over as the Atlanta Hawks’ GM, where he has been since 2017.