Steve Kerr ready for 'opportunity of lifetime' with USA Basketball

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  • Steve Kerr
    Steve Kerr
    American basketball player and coach

Kerr gets 'opportunity of lifetime' with USA Basketball originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- Steve Kerr doesn't like to think too hard about how he has gotten to where he is in his career. 

He went from NBA player, to front office member, to TV broadcaster before landing with the Warriors as their head coach.

It's the only head-coaching job he has ever had. And since he joined the organization in 2014, he has won three NBA championships with them. Now, he's adding USA men's basketball head coach to his résumé

But thinking about how all of this came to fruition makes his head spin, particularly the most recent job offer. 

"This is truly humbling when I think about how few coaches have ever had this opportunity to be the coach of the Olympic team in USA basketball," Kerr said Monday morning during his introductory press conference. "I have been very blessed, very lucky in my career and this opportunity is a result of being in the right place at the right time, working with the right people."

"It's the opportunity of a lifetime and I can't wait to work with all these guys."

Of course, the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris -- and the events leading up to the Games -- won't be Kerr's first go-around with team USA. Most recently, Kerr was part of Gregg Popovich's staff as an assistant coach for the 2017-21 USA men's national team. 

By coaching at the Tokyo Olympics, Kerr became the first team USA Basketball coach to win a gold medal as both a coach and a player (Kerr won gold during the 1986 World Cup) in a FIBA senior-level competition.

When it came time for Team USA to start the coaching hunt, Kerr was at the top of their list. 

"Steve was my No. 1 choice," Grant Hill, managing director of the men's national team, said. "I think because of a unique set of experiences, I think his basketball acumen, I mean, I can go down the list of reasons we all know Steve was the guy, and we had to go through the process, which I won't bore you with what that is. But ultimately, we got to this point where we are now and we're very thrilled.

"In my opinion, basketball people would agree that he is the ideal candidate for the USA National Men's Basketball Team."

The call with this job offer caught Kerr by surprise, despite spending all of last summer with Hill and Team USA in Las Vegas and Tokyo. 

"You just don't stop and think, 'Oh, maybe I'll be the head coach,'" Kerr said "It's not something you even dream about. So you don't even afford yourself that time and say I wonder if. You just put your head down and work. So when this call came, it gave me chills."

Since taking the job, Kerr and Hill have already had conversations about the direction they want to take the program. Roster construction has been a big topic, as well as how they'll balance maintaining certain aspects of USA Basketball that have been established before Kerr's tenure, while also putting their own touches on the team. 

Kerr says he'll draw on what he's learned from Popovich -- who was both Kerr's head coach in the late 1990s and his colleague on Team USA for the past four years.

"Coach Pop has been my mentor for many years," Kerr said. "A lot of what we do here in Golden State is based on what I learned from Pop. Certainly, the things that I learned with Team USA over the last few years ... Those experiences with Pop and the entire staff will be huge for me going forward."

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Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, Miami Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra and Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams will serve as assistant coaches on Kerr's staff. 

The first task for Kerr and his staff will be the 2023 Basketball World Cup, which means he will start putting his roster together shortly with the qualifiers starting in February 2022.

"I could be not more proud to represent my country, you know, as a basketball coach," Kerr said. "This is sort of my one opportunity to really represent my country in a very public way, and I know all of the players and staff feel that way.

"We want to go out and do everything with class. We want to do everything we can to make sure that people in this country are really proud of our efforts and proud of the way we carry ourselves and proud of the way we represent our country."

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