Steph Curry

Steve Kerr compares the fames of Michael Jordan and Steph Curry

Steve Kerr compares the fames of Michael Jordan and Steph Curry

Steve Kerr has been a part of two of the NBA’s best dynasties in his professional career with two of the games biggest stars leading them in Michael Jordan and Steph Curry.

No one is going to say Curry is on the same level as Jordan was as a player or an icon, but Kerr explained how differently the two are viewed because of the eras they played in. Kerr, who was a key bench player for the Bulls and now coaches the Golden State Warriors, interviewed on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt after the first two episodes of “The Last Dance” aired on Sunday. He talked about the aura around Jordan and the Bulls.

“I think there was almost a mystical quality to a famous team or an athlete like Michael back then,” Kerr said. “Nothing is left to the imagination now. Back then you could get away from it as an athlete, as a player, as anybody in the public eye. When the camera wasn’t on you, you could escape it, but today, with social media, with people constantly seeing every aspect of your life. You look at Steph Curry, he is a great example of someone whose every movement is analyzed and judged and criticized so I think back then there was a little more freedom that came with fame. You could escape it and now it just seems like it’s impossible to do so.”

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

Some of the Jordan stories talked about early in the “The Last Dance” would likely have spread more if they happened now as opposed to in the 80s and 90s. Jordan’s tough love mentality with his teammates earned him a reputation, but was also essential to who he was.

“There was a pressure that came with it when you were his teammate that I had never felt from anybody,” Kerr said in a separate interview leading up to the documentary’s premiere. “It was a great test. You had to step up and compete and perform every day.”

Jordan was seen yelling at teammates early in the 1997-98 season after the team got off to a slow start with Scottie Pippen injured. Would Jordan be perceived differently if he had to deal with the constant attention someone like Curry gets? Kerr told Van Pelt about other differences between the different NBA eras and why Jordan remains unique.

“I just think how much fun it was to be a part of, how great NBA basketball was in the 90s, how different it was to now and how dominant Michael was, not just physically, but spiritually,” Kerr said. “The hold he had over the entire league, over everybody. It was just dramatic and I think that’s the hardest thing for the young players who didn’t see him play. They can see the highlights, but they can’t feel his dominance and that’s what I’m hoping this documentary really shows.”

Kerr, like everyone else, will be eagerly awaiting the remaining eight episodes.

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Most dynamic duo: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen or the Splash Brothers?

Most dynamic duo: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen or the Splash Brothers?

Editor's Note: Over the next week, NBC Sports Chicago and NBC Sports Bay Area will try to settle the debate about which is the best NBA team of all time: the 1995-96 Bulls or the 2016-17 Warriors. Check out for the Warriors perspective.

If we’re talking nicknames, the moniker hung on Steph Curry and Klay Thompson wins without a doubt.

'Splash Brothers' is so much cooler than... Well, did Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen even have a nickname? They were called Batman and Robin sometimes.

But if we’re talking most dynamic duos, it’s also no contest. The Bulls win.

Steve Kerr always has been too smart to wade into such debates, always first asking which rules are used for any such mythical matchup. And indeed, the league has changed so much between the time Kerr played as a reserve alongside Jordan and Pippen and coached Curry and Thompson. 

But from this vantage point, there are so many ways to analyze the impact of these duos and almost all of them tilt towards Chicago.

Let’s start with the duo’s records in the NBA Finals. With Jordan and Pippen, the Bulls went 6-0. The Splash Brothers of Curry and Thompson are 3-2 — with work still to be done? 

Granted, Curry and Thompson earn some, well, warrior points for advancing to five straight NBA Finals. The Bulls’ separate three-peat teams were interrupted by Jordan’s first retirement, minor-league baseball dream and the Rockets’ reign.

But Jordan earned all six most valuable player awards for the Finals in which he played. Curry has yet to win one. 

That doesn’t make Curry any less the heart and soul of the Warriors. But Andre Iguodala winning one would be the equivalent of, say, Toni Kukoc winning one while Jordan played. And Kevin Durant’s arrival to win two Finals MVP awards — and subsequent debate as to the best player on the Warriors actually was — is a debate that never happened in Chicago. 

The only debate regarding Jordan is whether he’s the best player of all-time, not best player on his team.

You want to bring in statistics and, specifically, 3-point shooting? This is where the game has changed the most, obviously.

The title-winning, 2016-17 Warriors attempted 559 3-pointers over 17 playoff games, shooting 38.6 percent. Over 21 playoff games following the 1997-98 season, the Bulls shot just 272 3-pointers and connected at a 32.4 percent clip.

But here’s the thing: In Jordan, Pippen and Ron Harper, the Bulls employed three of the most tenacious and versatile perimeter defenders in league history. Jordan and Pippen own 19 All-Defensive team selections between them.

More numbers: Jordan averaged 33.4 points in 179 career playoffs games with the Bulls. Pippen posted averages of 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds over 178 career playoff games.

For the Warriors, Curry has averaged 26.5 points over 112 career playoff games. Thompson is at 19.3 points and four rebounds over 123 career playoff games.

As for the matchups, the Bulls could try to wear down both Curry and Thompson by rotating Jordan, Pippen and Harper on them. That’s because Dennis Rodman could split time between guarding Draymond Green and Kevin Durant in this mythical matchup. 

Pippen obviously would spend the bulk of his time on Durant. However, Jordan’s defense is always the most overlooked aspect to his championship resume. He’d win his matchup.

Like this discussion, that’s not really up for debate.

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NBA Power Rankings: New year, same old Steph Curry


NBA Power Rankings: New year, same old Steph Curry

While the NBA certainly had a parity-filled 2018, 2019 could be a different story. We still have every team in the West sans Phoenix competing for a playoff spot. But we are quickly approaching the NBA trade deadline and the buyout period. This when NBA teams will start to make their moves, whether it be dumping salary or adding a valuable rotation piece to boost playoff hopes.

And as teams start to fill out their rosters, we will start to see the back-end of the NBA draft lottery standings take shape. Squads like the Nets and Kings are close to ending playoff droughts but a few moves could heavily determine if they will be headed back to the draft lottery.

The MVP race has also been extremely close for most of the season, with several candidates looking like serious contenders. But with Giannis Antetokounmpo attacking the rim with aplomb, Kawhi Leonard achieving a career-high in points (45) and James Harden literally carrying the Rockets to wins every night, the MVP race is starting to clear up as well.

But there is one name—that has less than a 5 percent chance to win MVP according to Basketball-Reference's 2018-19 MVP Award Tracker—to watch this week specifically, and that is none other than two-time MVP Stephen Curry. 

Steph has played in less games than all the other MVP candidates, so he is fighting an uphill battle. And the fact that he is just barely leading his team in scoring because of the presence of Kevin Durant does not help him. But storylines rule all when it comes to NBA MVP races, and the narrative of the Warriors looking more vulnerable than usual can get flipped quickly if Curry goes supernova.

In the Dubs win over the Suns on New Year's Eve, Curry poured in 34 points on a hyper-efficient 64 percent shooting from the field to go along with 9 rebounds and 4 assists. And that night—just like so many others this season—showed that Curry is just as good as he was during his back-to-back MVP seasons, and that he is clearly the most important player on this team. 

The Rockets and Warriors play on Thursday at Oracle Arena. The showdown will be huge as a matchup between several MVP hopefuls (if you throw in Durant). And between Harden's play as of late and the fact that the Warriors got blown out by Houston in their only other matchup so far this year, you can definitely expect to see both squads—and Curry specifically—get off to a quick start. 

That game is just one of many this week that will go a long way towards painting a better picture of the NBA's hierarchy. Check out our latest update in the NBA Power Rankings right here