‘The Last Dance:’ Steve Kerr explains why being hit by Michael Jordan was good for him


The legend of Michael Jordan is full of countless tales, but like any great hero, these are the most interesting and incredible that we turn to repeatedly. With the release of “The Last Dance” the documentary series in 10 parts Chicago retailer Jordan Bulls in their last season together in 1997-98, many of these stories are told.

One of them is the infamous fight between Jordan and Steve Kerr. Now head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Kerr has played for the Bulls for five seasons and has been a teammate with Jordan for the last three games following MJ’s return from sabbatical from baseball. They ended up with a great relationship, and Kerr, of course, struck the title shot in the NBA finals in 1997 thanks to a stream from Jordan.

But at first things were a little different. Jordan, returning from nearly two years of basketball absence, was not only seeking recovery as a team leader, but pushing his teammates to see who he could trust. At training camp before the 1995-96 season, Kerr was fed up with Jordan’s physique and began to give it back to him immediately. This strategy hasn’t worked so well for Kerr yet.

Here’s how he described it in VICE in 2016:

“I started talking,” he said. “I’m not sure anyone has done this before. Then I started to foul it. Not like I could have an impact on him physically, but … I got the ball and he was keeping me and I think I used my arm and threw an elbow or something like that to get him away from me, and he kept talking. give him one.

“And he basically … came after me.” “

Later, teammate Judd Buechler told Kerr that the fight reminded him of a familiar movie scene. “I was like the kid jurassic park who was attacked by the velociraptor, “said Kerr with a laugh. I had no chance. It was just chaos. We were yelling at each other. “

His teammates moved to interrupt the fight before too much damage was done, but not before Kerr was left with a black eye. “Apparently I was hit,” he said. “I don’t even remember being hit. “

But if the action that day left him bruised and beaten, it earned him respect from Jordan. In an interview with Ernie Johnson of TNT on Wednesday evening, Kerr reiterated why he thought being hit by Jordan was one of the best things that had happened to him.

Full quote from Kerr:

I would say it certainly helped our relationship, and it probably sounds really weird. I would not recommend this to anyone at home. I think that has to be understood in the context of intense competition.

One thing that was more common at the time, than today, is the intensity of the practices at the time. I think we are smarter now by preserving our players. We don’t have as many days of training now, it’s more a question of rest and recovery, so there is not as much competition. Most of that is good – you see that LeBron is in its 17th or 18th season, whatever it is. I think Michael Jordan only played 12 or 13 years old.

My point is that the practices were really intense. They were part of the Bulls and Michael setting a standard for our game. Training fights – not only on this team, there were probably three during the year in this team – in each team I played with in the late 80’s, early 90’s there were some training fights. There was just a lot of competition, things were going to get out of hand, and it really wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

For me in this case, Michael was testing me definitively, and I answered, and I feel like I passed the test and he tested me later.

Under normal circumstances, starting a fight and getting the worst out of it is really not the best way to improve your relationship with someone. But playing with Jordan was never normal.

As much as it probably stung at the time – both literally and figuratively – things ended up working out for the best for Kerr and the Bulls. They won three consecutive titles from 1996 to 1998 after Jordan returned, and Kerr now has an incredible story to tell.


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