Bulls

Why Steve Kerr is 'almost embarrassed' to be included in 'The Last Dance' ads

Why Steve Kerr is 'almost embarrassed' to be included in 'The Last Dance' ads

Though Steve Kerr logged just 22.4 minutes per game for the 1997-98 Bulls (and didn’t make a start in his five-year tenure in Chicago), his penchant for big shots, dry humor and decorated resume as a head coach make him one of the more notorious faces from the Bulls’ second three-peat.

That name-brand recognition translated into Kerr being featured in a number of promotional materials for “The Last Dance” in the run-up to its debut. As an example:

Take a stroll into the replies if you’re wondering how Bulls die-hards felt about Kerr’s inclusion. (Spoiler: They didn’t approve.)

As it turns out, Kerr agrees with that sentiment. On the most recent episode of "The Lowe Post" podcast, Kerr admitted to ESPN’s Zach Lowe that he doesn’t feel deserving of his place on said graphic alongside the likes Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson. In fact, he said the prospect almost embarrasses him.

“Even today, I’m almost embarrassed, I see these graphics for "The Last Dance," these promos, and they have Michael, Dennis, Scottie, Phil and me,” Kerr told Lowe. “I understand it. The reason I’m on there is because I’m the one who’s famous because I’m the coach of the Warriors, and so people recognize me, and maybe people wouldn’t recognize Toni Kukoc or Luc Longley or Ron Harper. Or maybe their faces wouldn’t mean as much to a young generation because this was 22 years ago.

“But that should really be Toni (Kukoc) on that photo, on that promo,” Kerr said. “Because he was an incredible player.”

Indeed, Kukoc was a crucial yet underrated cog in the Bulls’ second three-peat. In the team’s 72-win 1995-96 campaign, he won Sixth Man of the Year. In 1997-98, he averaged 13.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 45.5% from the floor and 36.2% from deep, and notched 14 double-digit scoring performances in the postseason. His unique blend of outside shooting, playmaking, passing and defensive versatility was a huge part of what made those Bulls teams so ahead of their time.

“When you had Harper, Pippen, Jordan, Kukoc, Rodman (on the floor). Five guys who were all 6-6 to 6-10, all could handle the ball, all could pass, all could guard multiple spots,” Kerr told Lowe. “It’s what we’re all trying to accomplish today in the NBA.

“And by the way, Toni Kukoc, he was so good, and I’m glad he’s getting his due, or I assume is going to get his due, in the documentary… He was so good and so skilled at 6-11 as a dribbler, passer, shooter. You know, his nickname was "The Waiter" when he was over in Europe because he was such a good passer, he would serve everybody. I hope people are able to recognize the brilliance of his game. Because if he played today, he would be an All-Star. He would be so well thought of because his game is perfectly suited to what we’re seeing now.”

Kerr closed his interview with Lowe by recounting the last time the 1997-98 team all assembled together under one roof — a team dinner with players, coaches and wives shortly after the championship parade. Jackson set up the event, and at one point gathered all the players for a last drink and cigar. While indulging, Kerr said, the team went around and toasted each other in a final, emotional and “surreal” gesture of farewell.

Kerr’s toast? To Kukoc, of course.

“I said a toast to Toni Kukoc because of what he faced coming over.  It wasn’t common back then for European players to come over to the league, and nobody had had to go through what he did,” Kerr told Lowe. “The pressure from Michael and Scottie to earn his keep with the Bulls and, you know, to be Jerry's (Krause) guy because Jerry had drafted him in the second round and touted him. So all of a sudden, he shows up to practice and Michael and Scottie are all over him about being Jerry’s guy. And poor Toni just wants to play basketball. So I said a toast to Toni because I just thought he was such a great player.

“That night, I just wanted him to know how much he meant to our team.”

22 years later, Kerr continues to cape for Kukoc, and he’s a real one for it.

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: NBA, NHL seem close to return, MLB lurks in distance

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: NBA, NHL seem close to return, MLB lurks in distance

Laurence Holmes, David Haugh and Jay Cohen join Kap on a Memorial Day edition of SportsTalk Live.

0:00 - It looks like we’re getting closer to the return of team sports. The NBA is in talks to resume its season at Disney World, while the NHLPA approved a 24-team playoff format.

5:00 - MLB and the players continue to negotiate their restart plan.

13:00 - Sam Smith tells a San Francisco radio station the Michael Jordan lied in “The Last Dance” when he said he would have considered returning.

20:00 - The guys share their favorite non-title clinching moments in Chicago sports history.

Listen here or below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Top 'Last Dance' moments to get you through first Sunday without Michael Jordan

Top 'Last Dance' moments to get you through first Sunday without Michael Jordan

So you’re sitting around Sunday night, missing “The Last Dance.” We get it, we wish it was still on too.

To help us all get through this first week without it, we’ve compiled some of our favorite “Last Dance” stories so that we can remember the good times together.

Whether it’s your first time seeing some of these, or just a fun look back, we hope you enjoy.

Recounting the best quotes from “The Last Dance”

We’ve got Jordan, we’ve got Kobe Bryant, we’ve got Dennis Rodman-- and yes we’ve even got some Carmen Electra for you.

Michael Jordan jamming to different songs takes over Twitter

If there was one thing more fun than simply watching “The Last Dance,” it was talking with your friends and family about “The Last Dance.” Some of the after-show interviews with athletes, coaches and pundits added incredible insight. And sometimes a memelord would create something so fun that you couldn’t help but watch and laugh. This is one of those latter moments.

Rod Thorn: Michael Jordan didn’t ask for Isiah Thomas to be left off Dream Team

One of the biggest beefs in basketball has a light shined on it. But after all this time, there are still conflicting reports as to what happened back in 1992.

Did Utah pizza give Michael Jordan food poisoning and was it intentional?

The “flu game” is one of the most iconic performances in Michael Jordan’s career, but now we’ve learned it wasn’t the “flu game” at all! Certainly one of the most intriguing new wrinkles out of all the details we learned across the series.

Scottie Pippen on Jerry Krause: ‘The greatest general manager in the game’

The beef between Pippen and Krause was well documented, especially early in the series. But by the end even Pippen had to give it up for Krause.

Why Scott Burrell appreciated Michael Jordan's harsh leadership style

Arguably the most emotional moment we saw during Jordan’s interviews was when he described his leadership style with his teammates. It’s clear Jordan pushed the Bulls very hard, and it’s easy to see how it could rub some people the wrong way. But not Scott Burrell.

How Bulls helped Scottie Pippen earn millions more on way out of Chicago

After one early episode of “The Last Dance,” many people on social media were incredulous that Pippen’s long-term contract was never renegotiated considering his important contributions to the team. However our K.C. Johnson set the record straight for how the Bulls made things right with Pippen when he was on his way out of town.

Why running it back would not have yielded the Bulls a seventh title in 1998-99

To finish this post off, we’re going back to K.C. Johnson who tells us why the 1998 title would’ve been the last for the Bulls dynasty, no matter if Jordan, Jackson and co. returned, or not.

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