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.”
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.