Steve Kerr has seemingly become the go-to expert on basketball dynasties, the ever-quotable person with perspective from both playing in one and coaching another.
And to hear the Warriors' coach tell it, his former Bulls teammate Michael Jordan is the reason for it all.
“I owe him everything,” Kerr said on NBC Sports’ “Sports Uncovered” podcast.
Kerr had played five unheralded seasons in the NBA when he signed with the Bulls as a free agent in September 1993. Jordan’s stunning first retirement mere days later only delayed the seemingly inevitable.
Jordan returned in 1995. The Bulls won three more championships, one of which featured Jordan feeding Kerr for a Finals-clinching, foul-line jumper to beat the Utah Jazz in 1997.
Kerr, who later won two NBA championships with the Spurs, kept falling upward in his post-playing career.
“For me, [playing with Jordan] completely changed the rest of my life,” Kerr said on the podcast. “To that point, I had bounced around. I was just an average player. I was able to play on these championship teams, made a name for myself, was able to get into TV, into broadcasting, into management and coaching. And the reason people hired me for these jobs later on is because I had played next to Michael Jordan and I had been part of championship teams.”
Of course, Kerr’s humility and self-effacing nature belie the fact that he’s the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point shooting percentage (45.4%). Also unmentioned was the fact that his humor and insight often made him a must-listen on TNT broadcasts. His three-year stint as Phoenix Suns general manager preceded his run as coach of the Warriors, whom he led to five straight NBA Finals appearances and three titles.
Kerr is doing something right on his own. But like that 1997 Finals-clinching jumper, he’ll always credit Jordan with an assist.
“It was a dramatic impact on my life at the time but really the rest of my career, the rest of my life,” Kerr says. “So I kind of owe Michael.”