However, Jordan and Kerr’s relationship didn’t get off to a good start. The former punched the latter in the face before the 1995-96 season during a heated practice. Phil Jackson threw Jordan out of practice, and the superstar shooting guard realized he made a colossal mistake.
Michael Jordan: I was an idiot for punching Steve Kerr
In Jackson’s book Eleven Rings, Jordan said he acted like an idiot when he punched Kerr in the eye. The five-time MVP knew he had to change if the Bulls were going to win championships.
“It made me look at myself and say, ‘You know what? You’re really being an idiot about this whole process,'” Jordan recalled, via Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein. “I knew I had to be more respectful of my teammates.”
Jordan called Kerr after punching him to apologize. The two talked it out, and their trust went to another level. MJ knew he crossed the line, and it presumably meant a lot to Kerr for the most significant player in the game to call him to say he’s sorry.
Steve Kerr on Michael Jordan punch: Our relationship improved after the fight
While discussing the fight in ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries, Kerr said standing up to Jordan was the best thing he ever did. The sharpshooter also revealed that his relationship with His Airness dramatically improved.
“We talked it out, and it was probably, in a weird way, the best thing that I ever did, was stand up for myself with him because he tested everybody he played with, and I stood up to him,” Kerr said. “From that point on, our relationship dramatically improved and our trust in each other, everything. It was like, ‘All right, we got that out of the way. We’re going to war together.'”
Not only did Jordan and Kerr win three straight titles together in 1996, 1997, and 1998, but they also hooked up on one of the biggest plays in NBA Finals history.
MJ passed to Ice in Game 6 of ’97 Finals
Kerr hit the game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1997 Finals off a nice pass from Black Jesus. Jordan told Kerr to be ready during the timeout before the Bulls inbounded the ball since he knew he would get double-teamed.
It’s pretty fascinating how close Jordan and Kerr became after getting into a fight. It just goes to show that winning can solve a lot of problems in sports. The Bulls went 191-40 when Jordan and Kerr were in the lineup together. That’s good for a stellar winning percentage of .827.
Kerr may not be in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame like Jordan, but he won five championships with the Bulls and San Antonio Spurs and is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point percentage. Kerr shot 45.4% from beyond the arc during his career.
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