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A Conversation With Scott Howard-Cooper

By Ed Odeven

For decades, Scott Howard-Cooper has reported on the NBA, conducting thoughtful interviews and producing stellar stories for the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee,, and, among other media outlets.

This reporter recently wrote a review of Howard-Cooper’s book. He also had the opportunity for a wide-ranging exclusive interview with the veteran author about the experience of writing the book, which he described in various examples as a labor of love.

Some sections of the Q&A with Scott Howard-Cooper have been amended for brevity and/or clarity.


For you, what was the most rewarding aspect of writing the book? And what was the most challenging or difficult aspect of limiting the depth and breadth of Kerr’s life, which includes eight NBA championship rings as a player and head coach, to less than 300 pages and 15 chapters?

Scott Howard-Cooper: Well, the most rewarding was to take a guy who has been in the national spotlight, maybe even an international spotlight in some cases, since the 1980s, has been very prominent in the American sports scene and still come up with new stories. Putting certain events in his life in a new context, I was really proud of that. It’s not just sort of rehashing the stories that have already been told. There certainly is a lot of that because you’re telling the guy’s story. He got in a fight with Michael Jordan. That’s not new, but it has to be in there. He almost took the (New York) Knicks (coaching) job. … 

There certainly is some material that people may be familiar with, but I like the chance to sort of put it in context: The biggest shot of his life, the biggest moment on the court in his life was the 1997 Finals, hitting the shot that gave the Bulls the title. But I found a way to sort of talk about how that is more surreal than anybody would’ve imagined, and there’s a lot of different aspects like that.

Such as?

Scott Howard-Cooper: The people that enter his life along the way is pretty amazing. Here’s this book and you are writing about a basketball player, coach, general manager and broadcaster all rolled into one, and you don’t have to work hard to get Kim Jong-un into it. Yasser Arafat is in it. 9/11, Pearl Harbor, of course, Donald Trump, but even Ronald Reagan and Vice President (George H.W.) Bush.

There’s sort of this Forrest Gump quality to his life. It’s pretty incredible the people that come into Steve’s story that I know when I was writing it I was at one point talking about Kim Jong-Un and I stopped and said to myself, “Hey, this is a little bizarre; that this is not a typical sports story at all.” And that’s one of the things that I really like about it.

Did your overall impression of Steve in, say the year 2018 or 2019 change a lot as you were working on the book?

Scott Howard-Cooper: Probably not. I have known him for a long time. I was aware of all his many positive qualities. He’s genuinely a good guy who cares about other people and wants good things to happen.

But just some of the different examples of that in some of the areas that maybe he didn’t handle so well, wasn’t such a good guy, those were interesting…

To your knowledge has Kerr and/or his family read the book? Have you heard any reactions from them about it, or from people who shared their comments?

Scott Howard-Cooper: There hasn’t been anything. It kind of was an interesting point along the way that I had conversations with people, and some people said, you know what, he’s going to read it anyway. He may not be happy that it came out. He just doesn’t like the attention. He doesn’t want that spotlight. He’s worried about how it will impact the team. 


Read the full interview here.