Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - When ESPN's Doris Burke asked Steve Kerr during the championship celebration, who he was thinking about at that very moment he mentioned the two NBA coaches with whom he won a ring, Chicago's Phil Jackson and San Antonio's Gregg Popovich. The first name out of Kerr's mouth however was that of his college head coach. Lute Olson.
"Well I'm happy that Steve feels that way," Olson told Sports Director Damien Alameda. "I'm just pleased to be in that group Steve felt had something to do with his development."
As former Wildcats Kerr, Bruce Fraser, Luke Walton, and Andre Igoudala celebrated their NBA title in Cleveland, Ohio, Olson watched on from three time zones away in Hawaii where he is celebrating his anniversary with wife Kelly.
"Both Kelly and I were just so happy," said Olson, "because we had watched every minute of every game in the playoffs and it was really a thrill for us to watch Steve go up and accept that trophy."
Olson saw Kerr and the Warriors in-person but once during the regular season, a game in January out at Oracle Arena in Oakland. The Warriors hosted former Wildcat Derrick Williams and Sacramento. It was a good game to see. During the third quarter the Warriors Klay Thompson set a record scoring 37 points.
"After I saw them play in person I thought they would have a chance," said Olson. "They were so together as a team. The crowd at Oracle was like being in McKale Center."
Olson admitted that Kerr never sought his advice through his first year as an NBA head coach though Olson also said Kerr knew what he was doing. The proof came Tuesday night when Kerr became first rookie head coach to win a title since Pat Riley back in 1982.
"It's just a great sense of pride that I feel for these guys," said Olson, "The best thing about all of them is that they never gave me less than an 100 percent in anything that they did while they were at the U of A. I think the same is carrying over now to what they do with the Warriors."
After winning Golden State's first NBA title in 40 years, it sure seems to be the case.