Steve Kerr is the first rookie coach to clinch the NBA title since Pat Riley in 1982. Is it a complete surprise that he does so well or is it somehow written in his DNA to be an excellent coach? Well, I think it is the latter. But don’t understand me wrong, I don’t believe this DNA to be God-given. Every basketball coach is responsible for his own DNA.
The DNA of a basketball coach is his philosophy on the game of basketball. Writing such a philosophy is a never-ending process of adding new knowledge, discovering new ideas, adjusting to new trends in the game, … One key quality of a coach should be his open mind: Open to new ideas, willing to listen to different ideas, willing to discuss other opinions, …
Therefore, I think it is crucial for a young and eager coach to invest and travel to meet other coaches, philosophies and structures. This is something I’ve put very high on my priority list for several years and each and every investment was worth it. Every single time I traveled to go to a clinic or to meet a coach – in Belgium, in Europe or overseas – added at least a couple of strings to my coaching DNA. I can only recommend it to other young coaches.
I think it is no surprise that winning an NBA title in a rookie season, is achieved by Steve Kerr. When you go back into the career of Steve Kerr, you will find a lot of collaborations – being a player, manager or analyst – with some of the best coaches in the history of the game. Being a guard, a coaches partner in crime on the court, Kerr served respectively for 5 and 4 seasons under Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich, probably the two best NBA coaches of the past 50 years.
The San Antonio Spurs, one of the most succesfull teams of the last decade are known for having the most international influences in the league: Parker and Diaw (France), Ginobli (Argentina), Splitter (Brazil), Mills (Australia) and assistent coach Ettore Messina (Italy). Also as an organization the Spurs aim for a rich DNA. A model that clearly worked and that one tries to copy in several other places, witnessed by the popularity of all former members of the staff of Popovic: