When you think about some of the players through history that commanded respect and fear from their opponents by simply stepping on the court, Michael Jordan‘s name is the top of that list. The GOAT is widely considered to be the face of basketball ever since he was dominating the NBA in the ’90s. After 6 championships, 6 Finals MVP’s and many more achievements, Jordan got his name immortalized to the level every basketball fan even today knows what his legacy represents in the NBA world.
Every new generation of players entering the NBA in MJ’s era was trembling before that matchup, and Steve Kerr was no different. Today he is known as the coach of the Golden State Warriors and a player that had was a vital part of the Chicago Bulls three-peat from 1996 till 198, but when Kerr came into the NBA, the situation was vastly different.
Kerr was the 50th pick in the 1988 NBA Draft, starting his career with the Phoenix Suns. Even though he was a great shooter, Kerr didn’t show too much promise in his all-around game, as he was fighting for a spot on the roster in his first preseason. On a particular night, the Suns would face the Bulls in an exhibition game, which implied Kerr’s first meeting with MJ. Kerr told the funny story of that day on Open Court a while ago.
“I was a late second-round pick. I didn’t know if I was gonna make the league. I was on a non-guaranteed contract, and I’ll never forget one of my first exhibition games we played the Bulls. And I was just trying to make the roster. And Michael Jordan gets the ball right in front of our bench, and I’m already scared to death like I hope I don’t get into this game. I’m not ready for this stuff. He holds the ball out and looks right at me. And I’m on the bench just kind of like…He goes: ‘Watch this!’ And he turns, and he went right around Dan Majerle. BAM! Dunks it, looks back at our bench, and just starts laughing. And I’m looking like there’s no way in hell I can ever make the NBA.”Steve Kerr, Open Court
We can only imagine how it felt seeing Michael Jordan in his prime; listen to him trash-talking you only to slam the ball a few seconds later. Kerr had every reason to be petrified of even entering the game. But luckily for Kerr, he would still prove his worth, earn his spot on the roster and later have notable stints with the Cavaliers, Bulls, and Spurs, winning five championships.
In 1995 Kerr would join MJ on the Bulls, as the relationship didn’t get off to a flying start. MJ, in his manner, was being tough on his teammates, as that resulted in an altercation between him and Kerr that ended up with MJ punching Steve. But that event would change everything, as MJ apologized and gained respect for Kerr, building a good relationship that played a big part in their three-peat. It’s hilarious to see how that relationship went from Kerr being afraid to enter the game with Jordan playing to winning championships together. It’s a crazy NBA world.