By STEVE RIVERA
Steve Kerr said he would have loved to have joined Lute Olson’s staff at Arizona as an assistant coach if his NBA career hadn’t lasted as long as it did.
“When I first left for the NBA, I didn’t expect to play more than a couple of years, so my options were different then,” said the UA grad, in town for his annual Camp Kerr at St. Gregory College Preparatory School.
“But as I continued my career, now I know the NBA more than the college game. That’s where all my contacts are. My career changed drastically.”
Kerr, 38, lasted 15 years in the NBA and was on five championship teams. And that knowledge and those contacts have helped him in his second career.
He works for TNT as a color analyst on the network’s NBA coverage, and he is an adviser to new Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, also a UA grad.
“I never hoped for any of this. I never dreamed any of it,” he said.
His involvement with Sarver and the Suns was apparent yesterday because his campers were sporting purple and orange reversible uniforms.
Kerr’s involvement with the Suns started with a phone call in January from Olson, Sarver’s friend. Olson asked if Kerr would help Sarver look into purchasing an NBA franchise. Olson said that knowing Sarver is a go-getter and that he would definitely get an NBA team.
“I just kind of opened the right doors and saw the right people,” Kerr said.
First and foremost was a visit with NBA commissioner David Stern, who said that Colangelo, the longtime majority owner of the Suns, might be interested in selling the franchise. The deal was announced in April.
“One of the first things that Jerry told me when we were meeting (when Sarver was looking into purchasing the team) and before everything happened was, ‘you started out here(with the Suns) and now here we are again,’ ” Kerr recalled.
Sarver was the lead investor in a group that paid a record $401 million for an NBA franchise. He fully takes over in three years.
“Now I get phone calls from Robert asking my advice,” Kerr said. “It’s fun seeing the business from a different angle.”
And Kerr sees his camp, which he has run for 12 years, from a different angle.
The ultimate team player’s life has changed, but his philosophy for Camp Kerr hasn’t.
“It’s probably clearer now than what it was because we have experience with the camp now,” he said. “In the first years I’m not sure I knew how to teach certain things. But after 12 years of doing something you get better at doing it and you get more comfortable. But it’s still the same things.”
And the message is: “To work hard, to prepare yourself and to enjoy yourself.”
PHOTO CAPTION: XAVIER GALLEGOS/Tucson Citizen
Steve Kerr watches a game yesterday at his annual Camp Kerr.