Steve Kerr, the head coach of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, almost ended up as Phil Jackson’s first coach with the Knicks. The two are close, and Kerr defended his old Bulls boss for his disastrous Knicks tenure in comments reported by ESPN.
“I felt bad for the way things ended,” Kerr said on Tuesday as the Warriors practiced at St. John’s after a game with the Nets on Sunday. “I think Phil did some good things here. Drafting [Kristaps] Porzingis and hiring Jeff Hornacek. I think [Frank] Ntilikina looks like a good player. It feels like they’re on a good path right now.”
Jackson was a Hall of Famer as a coach, but not so much as an executive. He and the Knicks parted ways before this season.
“It’s a hard league, man,” Kerr said. “Things really have to fall. You have to do a good job. But you also have to get some luck. Phil knows that better than anybody. You can be really lucky and inherit Michael Jordan, and you can also be unlucky and things don’t go your way. It’s all part of it. We’re all going to have our moments in this league, ups and downs. Phil had so much success as a coach. I don’t know, maybe he was due for the down part of it.”
St. John’s coach Chris Mullin was a player and front office executive with the Warriors. The Red Storm players got to mingle with the Warriors for the second time in three years before both squads left town for road games.
Noah takes ill
Joakim Noah, who was going to be inactive anyway, was felled on Wednesday by what Hornacek called “a flu-type thing.” Noah hasn’t been active since his performance-enhancing drug suspension ended on Nov. 13.