While Michael Jordan got most of the credit for the Chicago Bulls dynasty, His Airness wasn’t working alone. Guys like Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman helped make everything possible; there were also plenty of role players like Toni Kucoc and Horace Grant. There was also a guard with a deadly jump shot by the name of Steve Kerr.
Kerr, of course, has gone on to find great success as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. That move to the sidelines hasn’t only helped him win more championships; coaching has also helped Kerr earn a great deal more money than he ever did as a player.
Steve Kerr’s NBA playing career
Growing up in Beiruit, Steve Kerr played both soccer and basketball. Ultimately, however, he found a home on the hardwood.
After high school, Kerr crossed the Atlantic and played his college ball at the University of Arizona. While he missed an entire season with a knee injury, he proved to be a knockdown shooter and helped the Wildcats make it to the Final Four; that was enough to convince the Phoenix Suns to select him in the second round of the 1998 draft.
Kerr, however, didn’t spend much time in the desert. After one season, the guard was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers; he spent two and a half campaigns in Ohio before joining the Orlando Magic for the remainder of 1992-93. Once free agency opened, he signed with the Chicago Bulls.
In the Windy City, Kerr became part of the Bulls dynasty. He never started a game, but he still averaged more than 20 minutes per night; he maintained his shooting touch, even knocking down the title-winning jumper in the 1997 NBA Finals. He left Chicago for San Antonio in 1999; the guard would win two more rings during two stints with the Spurs before calling it a career in 2003.
Moving from the court to a coaching role
After the 2002-03 NBA season wrapped up, Steve Kerr retired from the NBA. The guard, however, would never get too far away from the hardwood.
Kerr joined up with TNT, serving as a television analyst. That gig would last until 2007, when he rejoined the Phoenix Suns as the club’s president and general manager. While there were some ups and downs—Kerr helped the Suns start rebuilding but also clashed with Mike D’Antoni—he spent three seasons on the job.
The former guard did some more media work, covering games and contributing to Grantland, until May 2014, when he replaced Mark Jackson as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. He transformed the team and promptly won 67 of his first 82 games, leading the team to an NBA title.
Since then, Kerr’s star has continued to rise. In five seasons on the Warriors bench, he has appeared in five NBA Finals, taking home three rings. The club might be struggling this season, but the head coach has established himself one of the game’s brightest minds.
Steve Kerr has made way more as a coach than he did as a player
Between his time as a player, executive, and coach, Steve Kerr has spent more than 20 years in the NBA. That means he’s brought home plenty of money, but most of that cash has come in the past few seasons.
During Kerr’s 15 season playing career, Kerr made more a little under $16 million. While that was partially due to his role on the team—he started 30 games during his entire career—it was also a product of the time; even Scottie Pippen made less than $4 million per season while he was in Chicago.
As a coach, though, Kerr has made up for lost time. Once he accepted the Warriors gig, he signed a five-year, $25 million contract. While already was more than his playing salary, his earning power is now even higher. In 2018, he signed a sizable contract extension; once that took effect for the 2019-20 campaign, it reportedly carried a compensation of at least $10 million per season. That puts him in an elite earning bracket, just short of Gregg Popovich.
No matter his role, Steve Kerr clearly has a knack for basketball success. As the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, however, he’s finally being paid in line with his talent.