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Steve Kerr and Mike D’Antoni discuss Phoenix days in new story

The San Jose Mercury News got several former Suns on the record about the good ‘ole days.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

There are countless executives around the NBA who donned purple and orange during the Suns’ mid-2000s run, and The San Jose Mercury News’ Mark Medina looked into how those relationships inform the power structure at the top of the league, in a piece released ahead of Saturday night’s matchup between Golden State and Houston.

The coaches on either side of Saturday’s game were two of the most influential parts of Phoenix’s run last decade. They were coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Steve Kerr once upon a time, forming a prolific partnership that ultimately only lasted one season. In Medina’s story, they say they have moved past any hard feelings related to the 2007-08 season.

“In a different setting, it could’ve been a really good long-term partnership. We have tremendous respect for each other. I’m happy that he’s having all of this success,” Kerr said.

Medina also spoke with former Suns president and chief executive Rick Welts, who now serves as the Warriors’ president, about D’Antoni and Kerr.

The 2008 trade that sent Shawn Marion to the Miami Heat for Shaquille O’Neal was a turning point for the franchise, as well as the relationship between player and coach.

“It was ‘Camelot;’ it cannot get any better.” Welts said. “Steve and Mike had an amazing and successful time together. It was ‘Camelot,’ but then it wasn’t.”

Kerr told Medina that the O’Neal trade was too big a swing for the Suns that season, and didn’t fit with what D’Antoni was doing as a coach. He also said that he could have done more to make D’Antoni’s job easier and be honest about the expectations for the team that season.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, who served as an assistant under D’Antoni and eventually replaced him in the top job, puts into perspective a frustration Suns fans have felt for a while:

“Steve’s an easy guy to work for,” Gentry said. “And Mike is an easy guy to work for.”

D’Antoni and Kerr stayed in touch after D’Antoni left for New York following their lone season together, and regret not achieving more. Over the past few years, each has returned to a successful situation in the league, and they will meet tonight coaching the two best teams in the NBA.

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