This Father’s Day, we talked with UNLV Basketball Coach Kevin Kruger, the son of legendary Head Coach Lon Kruger.
1. Can you describe the basketball relationship you built with your father?
Kruger: Our relationship was always centered around our love for sports. Growing up, whenever we had free time we would be outside playing the sport that was in season. Football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring and summer. The basketball relationship got stronger in high school when I stopped playing other sports to play more basketball. Having the chance to team up with him in college allowed us to build on that relationship and spend more time together as father and son, but also coach and player.
2. When did you know you wanted to follow in his footsteps?
Kruger: I’ve always loved sports and having him around gave me early insight into what coaching would be like after playing. I always wanted to play as long as I could, and there is nothing equal to playing, but coaching and being a part of a team has been a great experience. I think seeing him do it, showing me what life is like as a coach, made me want to do it myself.
3. When you look at your father Lon being one of the most successful coaches of all time, what pride does that give you as a son?
Kruger: There is no bigger fan of Lon Kruger than me. I have an enormous sense of pride being his son, and still get extremely upset when his team loses. One thing that never gets old is people coming up to me telling me how much they enjoyed him being around. Not as a basketball coach, but just as a person.
4. How do you look to live up to any expectations from him?
Kruger: My parents never put any expectations on me other than to treat people well and do things the right way. I will be able to sleep at night by treating people well and being on teams and in programs that follow the rules and do their best to help the players get where they want to in life.
5. What have you learned along the way from Lon?
Kruger: What I’ve learned most from him is the impact and legacy you leave behind far outweigh the wins and losses. No matter what happens during and after your time somewhere, the people you work with are always going to remember how you were as a person and how you treated them.
6. As a father yourself, what can you say about the similarities and differences between fathering a child and coaching a basketball team?
Kruger: I think the biggest similarity is the feeling of wanting to help your players, or your kids, as much as possible. The biggest joy from both coaching and parenting comes from seeing them figure things out along the way. As a coach, the greatest joy is being a part of the development and growth of them as a person and player. Being a new father, the greatest joy is putting a smile on my daughter’s face.
7. Any special Father’s Day plans this year?
Kruger: We plan on sitting outside enjoying a late breakfast with our daughter while our two dogs chase each other around the yard. Sounds like a perfect Father’s Day to me.