The Arizona Republic
Kerr denies conflict in TNT, Suns positions
A column in USA TODAY suggests he should quit one job.
By JIM GINTONIO
The Arizona Republic
Ex-Arizona Wildcat Steve Kerr, an investor and adviser to new Suns managing owner Robert Sarver, said yesterday he sees no conflict of interest between his participation in a visit to Dallas to recruit free-agent point guard Steve Nash and his duties as an NBA analyst for TNT.
“I talked to my bosses at TNT about the arrangement,” Kerr told The Republic in response to a USA TODAY column by Rudy Martzke accusing him of a conflict of interest. “I’m an adviser to Sarver, and I will continue to call games for TNT.
“I probably won’t do any Suns games. But if I did, I call it like I see it. I did a lot of games for San Antonio (his former team). Those are my best buddies, and I had to rip them quite a few times.
“I could understand if this were Wall Street or insider trader going on, but it’s a basketball game. The main thing is the people who are my employers, the people at Turner, they have no problem at all.”
According to Martzke’s column, Kerr said three months ago he would back out of the Suns deal if his TNT bosses felt a conflict of interest arose.
Kerr was part of the Suns contingent that flew to Dallas last week on a private plane to convince Nash to accept a five-year $65 million offer.
But Kerr told the Republic he did not participate in the negotiations.
Kerr, who is not an employee of the Suns, also told the Republic: “I’m very confident that fans out there will not care one way or another. I’m going to be objective, and that’s about it. There’s no reason to worry about me compromising myself because of my position.”
Martzke wrote, “If Kerr is recruiting players for the Suns, how could he be assigned to Phoenix games by TNT? Or how can Kerr be assigned to Western Conference games, whose teams the Suns are battling for playoff spots?
“To eliminate these awkward decisions, Kerr would be well advised to step down from the management committee and halt his recruitment of players if, as he reiterated yesterday, he wants to stay in TV.”
Turner senior vice president Greg Hughes told Martzke Turner likens Kerr’s situation to that of TNT studio analyst Magic Johnson, who is a co-owner and vice president of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Similar to Magic, Steve has a role with a franchise,” Hughes said, “but it is the offseason and we’re going to talk to him further about his role with the Suns and us as we get closer to the season.”
Martzke wrote, “TNT hired Johnson full time two years ago, even though his positions with the Lakers represented a conflict of interest with his TV role. TNT should at least identify Johnson as a Lakers vice president when he offers opinions on the team. That said, one analyst with a conflict of interest is more than enough for TNT.
“Network officials should urge Kerr to reduce his commitments to the Suns. Kerr’s credibility at TNT is an issue. You cannot recruit players and then say you don’t have a conflict of interest because you’re not signing the players.”