"Jordan would stop the bus until he got more shots than Kerr"

"He got on the plane once and started yelling at me that he hadn't taken steps on a play that had been called," recalls Mandy Cohen.


Steve Kerr is 55 years old and is one of the key figures to understand the current NBA. Coach of the Warriors since 2014, he has won three rings in the Bay after masterfully coaching one of the great teams of all time in the Bay, the one still commanded by Stephen Curry and in which Kevin Durant played. Before, as a player, the pedigree of the shooting guard born in Beirut and raised in California is unquestionable: a shooting guard with excellent outside shooting, a specialist before that role proliferated in the NBA, Kerr played for fifteen years in the League and was a five-time champion with two of the greatest teams ever: Michael Jordan's Bulls (1996, 1997 and 1998) and Gregg Popovich's Spurs (1999 and 2003) .

Steve Kerr's big moment, you know, came in the 1997 Finals against the Jazz thanks to his winning shot in the final moments of the sixth and final game. Kerr received a pass from Jordan on the light bulb head and scored on jump. A shot that he took with his eyes closed but crucial because of the importance of the moment and because Jordan delegated to him at the moment when the title was at stake. After Kerr's basket, the Jazz had five seconds, but Scottie Pippen stole Bryon Russell's serve and assisted Tony Kukoc, who closed the Finals with a dunk (90-86) with the delirium already unleashed at the United Center. Kerr, a very much a joke of his style, joked later at the celebration when he said that he had told Jordan and Pippen in the timeout before that play that he was there to get the chestnuts out of the fire one more time.

Kerr had another moment for his particular legend with Michael Jordan: the punch in training. On the 23rd, it is already known, he competed to an obsessive level, and demanded the maximum from everyone, with some ways in the dressing room and in the way of leading his team that have later been questioned and that the documentary The Last Dance made clear to Although it was Jordan's own version that guided the entire narrative.

In the training camp of the 1995-96 season, the one that ended the 72-10 record, Kerr and Jordan became entangled, the latter tried to solve it by pulling his physique and Kerr, much lighter, was not daunted. The result was a fight in which Jordan punched Kerr and Kerr lunged back as his teammates tried to make peace and his eye began to turn purple. "He was like the boy from Jurassic Park who was attacked by the velociraptor" he said after laughing and to explain his obvious physical inferiority. More seriously, the now coach always assures that this incident cemented their relationship instead of spoiling it, because Jordan liked having guys by his side who did not shrink from challenges. “It's strange but that's the way it was, it suited us well. I wouldn't say it's something I would recommend doing to people, but in that case I know Michael was testing me, and I responded. I think I passed his test and he started to trust me. ”

Jordan's competitiveness with Kerr didn't end there. Mandy Cohen, a television producer who covered the Bulls in those years, has said in an interview that Jordan was obsessed with shooting better than Kerr. Always ready to take on challenges, bet on himself and beat everyone in everything, Jordan had a need to beat the best shooter on his team in a little contest of shooting from the center of the field that the Bulls used to do after practice. . “Kerr was the best shooter out of three back then. And after each shooting session everyone would shoot from the center of the field to see who could hit it. And many times you had to stand there waiting until Jordan put in more than Kerr. No one could go anywhere, and when necessary the team bus would stop until Jordan won and was ready to go. It was his personality, he couldn't lose anything. ”

The former producer of WGN TV also recalls that sometimes Jordan would get on the plane still yelling at the referees' decisions even in games where they had beaten win: “I once sat in my seat on the plane and stood in front of me and began to yell at me that he had not taken steps in a play in which they had been pointed out. And I told him why was he yelling at me if I hadn't refereed the game ”.

Photos from as.com
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