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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The man behind the 3s

    Ryan Caseyassistant sports editor
    Ryan Casey
    assistant sports editor

    You may have heard of him before. His number hangs above the court he essentially helped build.

    And though he played his final game at Arizona nearly 18 1/2 years ago, Steve Kerr’s presence still lingers in Tucson to this day.

    On a warm – oh, who am I kidding, blazingly hot – summer day this past summer, Kerr was the star attraction at the Tucson Summer Pro League’s All-Star game that pitted Wildcats of yesteryear (among them, Kerr, Joseph Blair, Kelvin Eafon, current assistant coach Josh Pastner and league founder Corey Williams) against a group of the league’s all-stars.

    Though he’d never admit it, No. 25, who attended Arizona from 1983-88, was the reason hundreds of local fans packed a high school gym to watch, as he put it, “”40-year-old guys like me with gray beards who people still cheer for.””

    “”You know, I don’t play very much any more,”” he said that day after draining 10-of-12 shots, including three of his trademark 3-pointers, “”but every time I play, I remember how much I love the game.””

    And even though he returned to Tucson for just one day, Kerr never left – at least not the Wildcat family, which extends from players that predate the Lute Olson-era to the Hall of Famer’s newest bunch of recruits.

    “”We just see each other everywhere,”” he said, mentioning a summer camp hosted by former Wildcats Luke Walton and Richard Jefferson he had recently visited. “”It’s a big family, a long tradition, long line of players, and we all feel that bond.

    “”There’s a pretty strong connection between all of us,”” he added later. “”You know, Lute Olson is obviously the guy responsible for that. He put this whole thing together. I remember … the first thing he told me was this is a family. And it really is.””

    Kerr – who worked last season as TNT’s top color analyst for NBA games – scored 1,445 points as a Wildcat in a career that included the school’s first trip to the Final Four in 1988, his senior season.

    “”Getting there, beating North Carolina up in Seattle, that was the goal of the program,”” Kerr said. “”You know, Lute Olson, he stated that as a goal when he took over. … Nobody believed in him, and then five years later, there we were.

    “”That’s my enduring memory, is jumping up and down with my teammates in Seattle, walking off the floor knowing we had done it.””

    With an everpresent sense of humor, Kerr tried to combine his new set of skills as a broadcaster with the ones that came so naturally to him after he was asked to analyze the game that he had just participated in – a game that essentially consisted of plays alternating in alley-oops and no-look passes.

    “”The strategy would’ve been too difficult to break down,”” he said dryly. “”I would’ve had to watch tape of it to really see what each team was trying to do because I don’t think anybody had any idea what they were trying to do out there.””

    Besides his work as an analyst, Kerr’s name has been floated around as a possible replacement for Olson – that is, if a day ever comes when Olson chooses to pass on the reins to his program. But Kerr doesn’t want to get into coaching – not just yet.

    “”If it were to happen, it’d be down the road,”” he said. “”I’m just committed to being with my kids and raising them. Being a college coach, an NBA coach, it really consumes you and takes you away from your life, and it becomes your life.

    “”I don’t want that yet. I think I might want it someday, but not as long as I can be at home raising my kids.””

    Who knows? Maybe one day Kerr will help raise other parents’ kids – this time on Lute and Bobbi Olson Court.

    Ryan Casey is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu

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