STEVE KERR, LARRY EUSTACHY AND BRIAN KELLY
One of the smartest things Steve Kerr ever did professionally was to respectfully decline Phil Jackson’s lucrative offer to become the head coach of the New York Knicks.
And this statement referencing that action covers plenty of ground because Steve Kerr has done a lot of smart things in his career and in his life.
Larry Eustachy is either a dope or an egomaniac or both. If he’s neither, then at the very least it would be safe to say he simply doesn’t get it. What’s that time-worn saying about teaching an old dog new tricks?
Poor Brian Kelly. He cheated. He got caught. He appealed. And he lost.
Last night (02/15/2018) via CNN Steve Kerr, head coach of the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors sternly rebuked — blasted would be a better word — the federal government’s perpetual languor (or is it torpor?) in acting to prevent gun violence following the Parkland, FL. deadly mass school shooting, which claimed 17 lives.
“Well, nothing has been done. It doesn’t seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death day after day in schools. It doesn’t matter that people are being shot at a concert, at a movie theater. It’s not enough, apparently, to move our leadership, our government, the people who are running this country to actually do anything.”
Kerr further denounced the government’s non-positional stance — which by turning its back on the issue of gun violence in reality clearly defines its position — describing it as “demoralizing,” and strongly urged American voters to hold lawmakers accountable.
“We can do something about it. We can vote people in who actually have the courage to protect people’s lives and not just bow down to the NRA because they’ve financed their campaign for them. So, hopefully we’ll find enough people, first of all, to vote good people in, but hopefully we can find enough people with courage to actually help our citizens remain safe and focus on the real safety issues. Not building some stupid wall for billions of dollars that has nothing to do with our safety, but actually protecting us from what truly is dangerous, which is maniacs with semi-automatic weapons just slaughtering our children. It’s disgusting.”
Kerr wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated in September after Trump rescinded the champion Warriors’ invite to the White House although it was clear that the Warriors would have declined to accept anyway.
In it he implored Trump to somehow step out of character and lead us — all of us.
“Remember the president works for us, not vice-versa. We elected him. He doesn’t just work for his constituents and his base. He works for every citizen. Once you take that office, you have to do what’s best for the entire country. Sure, you’re going to have policies that align with your party, but that’s not the point. Respectfully, Mr. Trump, the point is this: You’re the president. You represent all of us. Don’t divide us. Bring us together.”
Steve Kerr was born in Beirut, Lebanon 52 years ago.
The last time he visited his birthplace was in August of 1983; he was almost eighteen. When he was due to leave, the airport was closed because bombs were pounding the runway.
There was talk of taking a cruise ship to Cyprus or perhaps accompanying an ambassador via helicopter to Tel Aviv. A military plane bound for Cairo had an empty seat but it had just been snapped up by another before Kerr could put his name on it.
These options were open to young Kerr because his father Malcolm was the president of the American University of Beirut. Ultimately, a hired driver took him over the Lebanon Mountains and across the Syrian border to Damascus and then on to Amman, Jordan.
Little did Steve Kerr know that this odyssey, which felt to him like an escape of some kind, was exactly that.
His father, writing to other family members that day remarked, “I’m fearful that all this uncertainty and inconvenience, not to mention even a sense of physical danger, has not done Steve’s image of Beirut much good, and in his present mood he wonders what any of us are doing here.”
A few months later, Malcolm Kerr was shot twice in the back of the head outside his university office.
Kerr’s upbringing and family core values have made him so much more than a successful, championship-magnet NBA player and coach. (He is a seven-time NBA champion, winning three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs as a player, and two-and-counting with the Warriors as a head coach. Bill Russell, the greatest winner in sports history won 11 NBA championships).
He really, truly gets it in every conceivable way.
Larry Eustachy on the other hand, doesn’t get it at all.
His history of volatile behavior and poor judgment stand in stark contrast to the persona of Steve Kerr.
It is immaterial and of little moment that Eustachy, 62, was one win away at the end of January from becoming the second-winningest basketball coach in school history in his sixth season at the helm of the Colorado State University Rams. Or that his .627 winning percentage (121–73) trails only Boyd Grant’s .638 figure.
Eustachy has made a life’s work of “crossing the line,” both professionally and personally. He is a summa cum laude graduate of the renowned Bob Knight Institute with a major in fear and intimidation and a double minor in emotional and verbal abuse and stupidity.
Seems to have worked for him. So far…
Eustachy has exercised all three options to extend the five-year contract he signed with CSU in July 2013, more than a year after he was first hired, making the contractual agreement good through June 30, 2021. His base salary this year is $985,012 with annual increases topping out at $1.045 million in 2020-’21. If he were to be fired without cause, he would be owed the remainder of this year’s salary and three times this year’s pay or $2.955 million.
There of course would be no such payout if the university fired him “with cause,” as was the recommendation — supported by a 90-page comprehensive report — late in the 2013-’14 season.
He skated then, mandated only to attend six anger management sessions and apologize to his team. It is unclear whether or not he did either.
The university implemented a zero-tolerance policy with respect to directing profane language to others and/or throwing or striking objects.
Violations would result in termination for cause.
That was in 2014.
On February 3, 2018 CSU placed Larry Eustachy on administrative leave and promoted associate head coach Steve Barnes to interim head coach, pending the completion of yet another inquiry into the behavior of Eustachy.
The existence of this second investigation was confirmed by Colorado State just three days prior on January 31.
A pattern had been established well before (at Iowa State for instance where allegations of paying players surfaced as well) but never mind.
The die had been cast yet again.
And then there is Brian Kelly.
The Brian Kelly born in Everett, Massachusetts and who is a graduate of St. John’s Prep (Danvers) and Assumption College.
Kelly is the head football coach at Notre Dame and has been since December 2009.
Not bad for a kid raised in Chelsea, once known as the UCLA of the East Coast — University of Chelsea-Logan Airport.
A week ago, February 13th. to be precise, the NCAA denied Notre Dame’s appeal of a decision rendered in 2016 by its Committee on Infractions to vacate 21 football victories due to academic misconduct including all 12 wins from the school’s 2012 season which culminated in a BCS National Championship Game loss to Alabama 42–14.
Notre Dame agreed to accept certain NCAA findings and acknowledged cheating involving several football players and a student athletic trainer who allegedly acted as their ghostwriter along with doing substantial coursework for two players and giving impermissible help to six others in 18 courses over two academic years.
The NCAA further contended that the woman “continued to provide impermissible academic benefits to football student-athletes for a full year after she graduated” and while she was enrolled in her first year of law school elsewhere.
Three athletes according to the NCAA played while ineligible, one in 2012 and the other two in 2013.
Notre Dame appealed only the penalty which vacated the victories.
The university was stripped of the 21 wins, fined $5,000 and placed on one year’s probation in November 2016.
How much did Brian Kelly know? Or care?
When he looks in the mirror can he stand the reflection which bears a striking resemblance to Rick Pitino and other hands-on despotic coaches who claim to know nothing as the ship is sinking?
How can one be so thoroughly regimented and meticulous to detail and at the same time claim ignorance and make like an ostrich when trouble looms?
Or resort to playing the blame-game?
Or even worse try to bail by entertaining other job offers in an effort to get out of Dodge as fast as humanly possible?
Brian Kelly would be found guilty on all counts.
A jury of his real peers — and there are more than a few — is the only jury that could perhaps spare him.
In context the one thing that Steve Kerr, Larry Eustachy and Brian Kelly have in common is that they are successful high-profile coaches.
Oh, and maybe something else.
There are right ways and wrong ways to go about one’s business and they all know that too.
In today’s world it’s all about what you say and how you say it and what you do and how you do it.
It is just that simple.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in February 2018.]