New North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson says watching Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors discuss and successfully implement tactics during this year’s NBA playoffs series reinvigorated his AFL coaching desire.
Clarkson, the greatest coach of the modern era after leading Hawthorn to four premierships, will return to the AFL coaching fraternity next year after signing a five-year deal to lead North Melbourne.
It comes 12 months after Clarkson’s 17-year stint at Hawthorn ended after the Sam Mitchell-Clarkson handover was accelerated. He then turned down several approaches from clubs, including Carlton and Collingwood, as he committed to taking a break from the AFL, spending more time with his family and undertaking further study and personal development opportunities.
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Speaking to reporters on Friday, Clarkson recounted how much he’d enjoyed working with the Tasmanian state government and the Tassie taskforce in recent months around the state’s bid for a 19th AFL licence, which led to Clarkson partaking in several overseas trips both last year and this year.
But it was during his time with the Warriors in April this year that truly reignited his hunger for coaching.
“I spent a lot of time with the Golden State Warriors and Steve Kerr … They were starting their playoffs and I was sitting in discussions with Steve and Ron Adams and Mike Brown and Kenny Atkinson and their coaching crew. They’re planning a big playoff series against Denver — and they had the MVP (Nikola Jokic) in their side — and there was this enormous strategy around how they were going to defeat Denver and negate the influence of this significant player for them,” he explained.
“I watched that discussion then unfold into training sessions where they needed to go and practice and execute it, then a best-of seven game series … I came back from there so inspired by what Steve was doing, first and foremost, and their success . I thought to myself, ‘this is what I do, this is in my DNA’.”
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“Despite my passion for the front of the office (administration) part of the business … it occurred to me that I wanted to be at the coalface of footy and get on the journey of another significant challenge, which I’m so excited to start today.”
Clarkson described it as an “exciting time to be involved” at Arden Street as he looks to help turn around his fortunes after a two-win season that saw David Noble get sacked last month.
“As we’ve seen with Carlton and Collingwood it doesn’t take much to turn it around,” he said.
“Get the right people in, the right vision and everyone marching to the same tune, and you can pick things up pretty quickly.
“We know we have a lot of work to do … I’m really excited with that challenge, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
“We’ve got a group of guys who’ve been through a tough year. But I feel like there’s real optimism of where we can go over the next few years.
“I’m not of the view that it’s going to be a 10-year turnaround, I’m of the view that if you roll the sleeves up and get to work and put together a program with really good people who are aligned to a vision of where we want to go, then we can all get on this journey together.”