James Dolan Influenced Steve Kerr Spurning Knicks for Warriors

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 15, 2014

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Steve Kerr turned down the New York Knicks head coaching gig for a number of surprising reasons, but we should have seen one of the biggest ones coming a mile away: Mr. James L. Dolan.

Per Harvey Araton of The New York Times

In doing his homework and speaking to many people about Dolan’s methodology, Kerr became concerned about an inevitable clash between ownership and the fiercely independent and occasionally iconoclastic Jackson.

There haven't been any details released on the exact nature of Kerr's "homework," but it didn't need to involve more than being a sentient life form with functioning eyes and ears who lived on Earth during the past 15 years of Dolan's interminable, befuddling mismanagement.

If Kerr picked up a newspaper at any point after 1999 or logged onto Twitter in the past six years, he had more than enough evidence that Dolan's Knicks were no place for the sane.

Wait a minute. Are you trying to tell me Dolan and someone as headstrong and confident as Phil Jackson might not see eye to eye on every issue? And are you also saying a broken-down roster and the likelihood of the franchise star either walking away or resisting change might bring out the worst in Dolan?

Stop. Please. The room is spinning.

Of course Dolan was going to meddle! It's what he does.

MARK LENNIHAN/Associated Press

"It was agonizing to say no to Phil because of what I think of him and what he’s done for my career,” Kerr told David Aldridge NBA.com. “When Phil Jackson asks you to coach the Knicks, how do you say no?”

How do you say no? By thinking rationally for about five seconds, apparently.

Kerr is a smart guy. He knew Dolan was a problem from the outset, which is why it's no surprise to learn from Araton's report that he harbored reservations about the Knicks job all along. Nobody has come out and specifically said Kerr was using New York for leverage (successfully, I might add, if his $25 million deal with the Golden State Warriors is any indication), but that seems like a pretty safe way to interpret what went on.

Dolan is at the center of everything bad about the Knicks. He's the guy who forces an exceptionalist agenda on his staff and the media. He's the one desperate for splashy stars instead of productive players.

He's the reason nobody—Kerr in particular—believes there's hope for the Knicks.

Per Will Leitch of Sports on Earth:

The Knicks think the world revolves around them, when the world's mostly just laughing in their general direction.

It's difficult to come up with a better example of this than Steve Kerr.

Dolan is the source of New York's delusion. And he'll continue to be a counterproductive force on the strength of his reputation alone.

Somehow, he lured Jackson into the fold. There's no explaining that one.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18:  James Dolan, L, Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden, stands with Phil Jackson during the press conference to announce Jackson as President of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2014 in New York City
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But from here on out, expect coaches with better options to shy away from New York. And don't be surprised when free agents—such as the Knicks' bloated payroll will allow them to pursue—don't fall all over themselves to sign on with an organization whose defining characteristic is dysfunction.

Kerr's not an outlier. He's just the latest example of business as usual for Dolan and the Knicks.