Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coaching First with Two Rookies in NBA Finals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coaching First with Two Rookies in NBA Finals

Article excerpt

OAKLAND, Calif. * The path to the NBA Finals for Steve Kerr and David Blatt, a rare pair of rookie coaches on basketball's biggest stage, started with a meeting organized by their agent at Los Angeles International Airport last June.

The two clicked immediately, talking about their philosophies for basketball and life, and Kerr offered Blatt a spot on his new staff with the Golden State Warriors. Blatt, a successful coach internationally, had been waiting for the right opportunity to break into the NBA and initially accepted.

Then, an unexpected call gave their plans a twist.

When Cleveland asked Blatt to interview for their coaching vacancy, Kerr encouraged him to seek the job. Now the next time they see each other will be from opposite benches when the Warriors host the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the finals Thursday night.

"No way we could've guessed back then that we'd be facing each other in the NBA Finals less than a year later. It's crazy to think about," Kerr said, echoing his counterpart's amazement.

"That's a great irony and story," Blatt said. "The way that I look at it is, especially when I look back to our conversation, is that we both got exactly what we wanted. We wanted to be part of a successful team that competes for the championship of the NBA. And it's happened only we're on different sides."

The matchup is more than a coincidence. It's historic.

This is the first time rookie coaches have met in the finals time since the NBA's inaugural season in 1946-47. And no first-year coach has won the title since Pat Riley with the Lakers in 1982.

Both took different roads to NBA coaching careers Kerr as a five- time champion player, broadcaster and general manager, and Blatt as a coach in Europe and the Middle East.

In the past 12 months, their journeys have varied just as much.

Kerr took over a 51-win team led by Stephen Curry, this season's MVP, and loaded with talent. …

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