Meet Your All-Star Coaches

Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks will coach the All-Star Game on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. Here is what they said at Friday’s Media Day ahead of this big event.


  1. Would you say Tim Duncan is underappreciated?
    STEVE KERR: Not by the people in the business. Everybody that I hear on TV, they always say Tim is a top-five player of all time. But he doesn’t have the same sort of reputation, I guess, as Magic or Michael or Larry, because he’s so low-key. The charisma that those guys had and all the endorsements and everything else made them sort of global icons. Tim prefers to go about his business and play hoop.
  2. At the core, at leadership, were there more similarities between him and Michael?
    STEVE KERR: Well, entirely different kind of leadership. Michael was brash and outspoken. And Tim was reserved and quiet. But each led his team in his own style. And obviously very effectively.
  3. Can you talk Michael out of retirement so you can get to coach him for a game?
    STEVE KERR: That would be interesting.
  4. Did you have a chance to decide your starters yet?
    STEVE KERR: Not yet.
  5. What’s the determining factor on that?
    STEVE KERR: I have to talk to all the guys to see how much they want to play. I’m assuming Timmy and Dirk aren’t going to want to play big minutes. But my guess is we’ll start either Durant or Aldridge. But maybe we would start Tim Duncan and play him five minutes and he can put ice on his knees and take the rest of the night off. I don’t know.
  6. Off-the-beaten-path question: Do you think basketball can work on a professional level in Vegas?
    STEVE KERR: I don’t know enough about it, really, to be honest with you. I think there’s so many things that go into it, corporate money and sponsorship sales. I don’t know enough about that area to really answer that question with any credibility.
  7. As a former GM, would you be concerned about having players —
    STEVE KERR: No. I wouldn’t be concerned about it.
  8. Steve, can you speak about the irony that you were courted by the Knicks and now you’re coaching the All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden?
    STEVE KERR: It doesn’t mean anything to me. We were here three days ago with the Warriors to play the Knicks. I was asked that question. It’s just a side story that has no significance for me.
  9. Your feelings about Madison Square Garden as a player being here?
    STEVE KERR: I always loved coming in here. The Mecca. Great memories of playing against the Knicks in the playoffs when I was with Chicago. Incredibly loud fans. Great basketball area. This is the heartbeat of the game for the professional game, I think. I love coming to The Garden and playing —
  10. (Inaudible) a little triangle offense?
    STEVE KERR: I’m pretty sure in an All-Star Game there’s not much of any offensive strategy.
  11. How do you feel about coaching the All-Star Game with your own players?
    STEVE KERR: It’s going to be fun to coach Steph, to have him — to be here together is special. Because it’s an honor for all three of us. But it’s really an honor for them, because the way they’re playing, they deserve to be here. They’re the only reason I’m here. I’ve got great players with the Warriors. And they’re having a fantastic season. And that’s how I ended up here.
  12. You won five championships. You’ve played with Jordan, played with Duncan. Are you the happiest man on Earth?
    STEVE KERR: I’m the luckiest man on Earth, for sure. Yeah, I’ve had an incredibly fortunate career. I really wasn’t a very good player. I was a role player. And I ended up on great teams where I could make a name for myself. Make a few shots and people recognized it, but to go from one thing to the next, the Bulls to the Spurs to management to coaching, I’ve been very blessed.
  13. You guys have faced Miami twice. You’ll be coaching against Chris Bosh Sunday. Where do you view his game right now?
    STEVE KERR: I love Chris Bosh. One of my favorite players in the league. I love guys who play both ends. I love big guys who can stretch the floor, guard, screen-and-roll and switch out on the point guards and stay in front of them. He does all that. And that’s the most important thing in the game these days, is to have that kind of versatility as a big and be able to protect the rim and still get out to the perimeter and score inside and out. I think he’s one of the very best players in the league.


  1. You hired a European coach as an assistant. What was the reason to do that?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Neven (Spahija) can help us. Neven can help us in a lot of different ways. Neven’s knowledge of the game and his experiences as a long-time head coach at a high level in Europe and with a national team. And of course he’s a very close friend. I’ve known Neven for a long time. And I trust him. I know that he can help me, and he can help our players and help our organization. He’s just a very, very knowledgeable basketball mind.
  2. You want to follow the international game more than before?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Well, it’s hard to say more. We’ve been stealing and trying to be more European, more international for a lot of years. I think that there’s a lot of value in moving the ball, moving the people. And I think things that people consider European are things that we very much value. And he can help us grow and integrate them even more.
  3. In a playoff game and you’re up by three, would you foul like in Europe or no like you do in the States?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: You have to ask Neven. Neven is very unhappy with me. I tell him we will not foul and he shakes his head.
  4. Is it frustrating you are always compared to Gregg Popovich and people saying his successor (Inaudible) ?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: No, it’s not frustrating at all. Obviously we have a lot of respect for the Spurs and for Coach Pop and all their players and the way they play the game, how much success they have had. Obviously we feel like we’re doing it our way in Atlanta and we’re building our team and we’re building our culture. But there’s so much respect and admiration. Not just from us, from the whole league for Coach Pop and the whole team.
  5. How can you describe the success of the team? Is it unexpected the way the Atlanta Hawks are playing? There is no player in the top 50 of leading scorers in the NBA. Collective, good basketball, good coach.
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Very good players. The coaching we’re not sure about. You know, I think we felt strongly about our group really the whole two years we’ve been together. We’ve brought back most of the team. We finished on a positive note. They played very unselfishly, they compete at a high level. We’re just focused on trying to get better each day. And the guys have embraced that on an individual basis and a collective basis. We just go out and compete every night. Hopefully we’ll continue to do that.
  6. As head coach of the best team and the Eastern All-Stars, can you put a few words on your journey from Vejle in Denmark, now to being the head coach for the best team?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Yeah, it’s a long ways from Vejle. But I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for experiences like that, learning and growing, playing and coaching in Denmark, and learning from other people and other cultures and respecting other cultures. It was a great year, and it helped me along my process of becoming a coach. I have many dear friends there and I’m very appreciative of that year in Denmark.
  7. You’ve installed ball movement in Atlanta. Is that something that you just say to the players, now we move the ball and everything is going to be fine?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: No, but I think it starts with our players. Our players are very unselfish. They’re very high-character, high-basketball IQ. So I think they appreciate and understand how our team, our best chance of success is with great ball movement, playing unselfishly. So I give the players all the credit. We work on it. We watch film. We talk about it. We stress it. But at the end of the day the players deserve all the credit for how unselfish they play.
  8. Pero, you don’t use him as much as last season.
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Pero is great for us. He does so many things that we appreciate. He gives defense. People don’t understand or appreciate probably how good he is defensively, setting screens and moving the ball. He’s just a very, very smart player. Our players love him. Our coaches love him. He’s a big part of our spirit. We’re very, very fortunate to have Pero as part of our program.
  9. What are the lessons you get after spending so many years with the San Antonio Spurs and won four rings? What is the key point for the playoffs?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think San Antonio just competes. The way they compete every night. They play so unselfishly. They play so disciplined. I think it always starts with how you compete. That’s Coach Pop and their players just compete every possession every night. And you build those habits, and that’s what gives you your best chance to be successful.
  10. Do you remember the first time you were ever in a room with Tim Duncan?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I do, actually. He wasn’t so sure I was an assistant coach. I was very young, and I don’t think I looked the part.
  11. One question about the Washington Wizards: Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards. He almost made the NBA All-Star Game by voting. You could have selected him as one of the players you picked. Why didn’t you do it?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: I think our votes are —
  12. He was quite close.
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Yeah. I think collectively why the coaches didn’t do it, it’s so hard. There’s players that are deserving, and you have to make hard choices. And (Marcin) Gortat is someone that’s very deserving to be here. He’s a great player. The Wizards have had the last year and a half great success, and he’s a big part of that. Everybody is deserving, including Marcin.
  13. Do you believe one day day a Greek kid could come here and be an All-Star?
    MIKE BUDENHOLZER: Giannis? He’s a special young player. His skills along with his physical attributes, his length, and I think the whole league is excited about watching him grow and develop. You never know where a player’s career is going to be, and you don’t want to put pressure on them and put them in a corner. But he’s someone that I think is a big part of the future of our league.
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