The Last Dance

How Steve Kerr's time with 'Last Dance' Bulls helped him with Warriors

How Steve Kerr's time with 'Last Dance' Bulls helped him with Warriors

Steve Kerr is spending the offseason, the long, extended offseason, re-evaluating the Warriors' program.

After five straight trips to the NBA Finals, the Warriors sunk to the bottom of the NBA with Steph Curry playing only five games and Klay Thompson missing the entire season. But both stars will be healthy and rested next season when the Warriors hope to begin another dynastic run. The gap year has allowed Kerr to take a step back and plan for the future.

As a member of the "The Last Dance" Chicago Bulls, Kerr didn't have the ability to sit back and take the 1000-foot view of the Bulls' accomplishments before starting the next phase. It just ended. But he does believe his time with that team helped him navigate the perils the Warriors have faced.

“There’s a reason it was called ‘The Last Dance’ before the season, and not after,” Kerr told The Athletic's David Aldridge on the "Hoops, Adjacent" podcast. “… And, to be honest -- and I think Phil (Jackson) said this in the documentary -- it felt over. In retrospect, it’s easy to look back and say, ‘Man, why didn’t they keep it going?’ But at the time, it felt like everybody was exhausted, and the team had already, management had already decided what they were going to do. So we didn’t spend any time looking forward to what might have been. I think everybody just kind of went their separate ways.

“But I think that experience really did help me, coaching our own group in Golden State over the last few years. ‘Cause I was really able to think about the fatigue, the emotional and the spiritual fatigue, that sets in when you’re trying to do something year after year like we did in Chicago, and again in Golden State. So that experience really came in handy for me as a coach.”

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

By the time the 2018-19 season rolled around, it was clear the Warriors were running slow, the exhaustion of four straight Finals trips weighing heavy on their minds and bodies. The constant questions surrounding the future of Kevin Durant only exacerbated the exhaustion.

In the moment, it felt like that was the final hurrah for that group, win or lose. There's no doubt a healthy Warriors team likely would have completed the threepeat. But Steph Curry and Draymond Green, the two stars left standing in final moments of that iteration of the dynasty, emptied the tank as champions do, throwing everything they had at the Toronto Raptors to force a decisive Game 7. But it wasn't to be.

[RELATED: Steph, Kerr's greatness proved Lacob's 'light years' quip true]

The Last Dance Bulls ended as champions, with Michael Jordan's game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals being the lasting memory of that run. They finished as champions, but ones who never got to defend their title.

The Curry-Durant Warriors were defeated not by management hubris, petty differences or cheap ownership, but by injuries and exhaustion. While Jordan and the Bulls are left to wonder if a seventh title could have been theirs, the Warriors were left with no haunting what-ifs. They achieved everything they set out to accomplish, and only the weight on continued excellence, injuries and exhaustion toppled their dynasty.

Kerr, Curry, Thompson and Green now get the chance to reinvent themselves again, and start a new dynasty in the remaining years of their prime.

Kerr and the Warriors have been able to soak in and fully appreciate the greatness of their run during the down year. Now, the work begins again for the Warriors' championship core.

Steve Kerr's shorts from NBA Finals game-winning shot up for auction

Steve Kerr's shorts from NBA Finals game-winning shot up for auction

With 5.0 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, Steve Kerr hit the jump shot that delivered the Bulls their fifth NBA title in a seven-year span.

And if you're looking to get your hands on the shorts that the Warriors' coach was wearing when he played the role of hero, you're in luck.

They are available through the Lelands Spring Classic Auction, with a portion of the proceeds going to coronavirus relief efforts.

The most recent bid -- $1,650 -- was submitted Thursday night. The auction ends June 19 at 8:00 p.m. PT.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Here is part of the description:

White Champion shorts feature a Size 36 tag in waist with Kerr’s number “25” handwritten in black with a Bulls exclusive tag that reads, “Rise +2 and Inseam +2.” Inside the shorts on the rear seam there is a “1996-1997” wash tag that shows significant wear; drawstring appears to be original.

Covered in champagne stains from the locker room victory celebration, these historic shorts have also been signed by Steve Kerr in black prominently in the front.

[RELATED: Kerr believes NBA will allow Warriors to hold 'minicamp']

During ESPN's "The Last Dance" documentary, Kerr discussed his mindset leading up to the most memorable moment of his NBA career.

"Phil (Jackson) calls timeout and Michael (Jordan) knew what was coming," Kerr explained. "Earlier in the series -- in a very similar situation late in a game -- John Stockton had come over and doubled him and stolen the ball, which helped seal the win for Utah.

"He mumbled something like, 'Hey Steve, Hey Steve -- be ready.' He knew the camera was always on him, and I'm like oblivious, yelling back, 'I'll be ready! I'll be ready (laughter)!' "

And ready he was.

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Warriors' Steve Kerr shares funny details about 'Last Dance' interview

Warriors' Steve Kerr shares funny details about 'Last Dance' interview

Steve Kerr played a prominent role in "The Last Dance" documentary on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls.

If you didn't know already, the film crew spoke with the Warriors coach in late October 2018 when Golden State was in New York to face the Knicks.

"It was funny -- I had forgotten about the interview," Kerr told Warriors play-by-play broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald last Friday. "So we came back from practice -- I completely spaced out, I got a workout at the gym where we practiced -- I come back to the hotel late (and) these guys are waiting in the lobby.

"They got this huge production. They had rented a suite. There's got to be 20 people in there and a million cameras. I felt so bad. I didn't even take a shower. I just ran up and did the interview."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

In case you haven't seen any of the episodes yet -- Kerr wore a blue Warriors long-sleeve shirt for the sit-down conversation.

"As soon as I sat down, I thought, 'I like this. I got my Warriors shirt on. This is gonna show pretty well,'" Kerr said to Fitzgerald. "When we sat down to watch it (the actual documentary on TV), my daughter and my wife immediately turned to me and they said, 'You couldn't take a shower and fix your hair before the interview?'"

You got to love Maddy and Margot Kerr for keeping it real.

No word yet on if Kerr at least was able to put on some deodorant.

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