When the word legend comes to mind, we think of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Bill Russell, and more. When we think of the word legend, does the name Steve Kerr ever come to mind? When looking back at his history, Kerr has flown under the radar as one of the most underrated legends in the history of the NBA.
From playing to coaching, Kerr has developed one of the best and longest basketball careers. The five-time champion as a player is a three-time champion as a head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Take a look at this track record and try to tell us that he is not at legend status.
Played With A Young Shaq In 1993
Kerr is a former second-round draft pick of the 1988 NBA Draft. He was traded to the Cavaliers in 1989, where he spent three seasons. He then was a deadline acquisition during the 1992-1993 season by the Orlando Magic. When acquired, he joined a Magic team that was contending for a playoff spot with the former No. 1 overall pick, Shaquille O’Neal, playing his rookie season.
The Magic finished .500 that season and just missed qualifying for the playoffs with a 41-41 record. O’Neal averaged 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks and was named Rookie of the Year. Kerr has played with quite a few superstars in his career. Who would have thought that Shaq would have been the tip of the iceberg?
Three-Peated With The Bulls And Michael Jordan
Kerr joined the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 1993, which was consequently the first year without Michael Jordan, who retired due to the death of his father. Kerr helped the Bulls make the playoffs in the season, as well as played a huge role the following year which ultimately saw Jordan return. However, the team could not advance to the Finals.
When Jordan came back full time, the Bulls set a then-NBA record of 72-10 and defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 NBA Finals. Then, he played a key role in 1997 against the Utah Jazz, where he hit the title-winning three-point shot in Game 6. Then, in the last minute of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Kerr missed a three-pointer, grabbed his rebounds, and made a pass to Jordan, who hit a crucial three-point play to give the team the lead. The Bulls ultimately won their third title in six games, completing the three-peat.
Won The 1997 Three-Point Contest
At the All-Star break, Kerr joined Dale Ellis, Tim Legler, Terry Mills, Sam Perkins, Glen Rice, John Stockton, and Walt Williams. It was Ellis’ sixth time competing in the tournament, while it was the fourth appearance for both Kerr and Glen Rice. Needless to say, the veteran experience paid off as Kerr ultimately won the title.
To this day, Kerr is tied with Maric Price, Dennis Scott, and Kyle Korver for the sixth-most consecutive three-point shots made in the Three-Point Contest with nine in a row. In the Finals, he made 22 of 30 shots to claim the championship.
Won Two More Championships With The Spurs
In 1999, Kerr was acquired by the Spurs in a sign-and-trade deal, which featured Chuck Person and a first-round pick. The Spurs reached the 1999 NBA Finals and won their first NBA championship in franchise history with a 4-1 series victory over the New York Knicks. At the time, Kerr became the second player to win four straight NBA titles without being a member of the 1960s Boston Celtics dynasty. Kerr and Frank Saul were the only two players in NBA history to have won two championships with two different teams in consecutive seasons until Patrick McCaw (2019) and Danny Green (2020).
In 2001, Kerr was traded to the Trail Blazers but was shipped back to San Antonio in 2002 for Charles Smith, Amal McCaskill, and Antonio Daniels. Kerr played in 75 games, which was the final season of his career. In Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, Kerr made four second-half three-point shots to help down the Dallas Mavericks. Then, the Spurs won their second title by beating the New Jersey Nets.
Owns The Highest Career Three-Point Percentage In League History
Kerr owns the highest mark in all-time history with a .454 shooting clip, which is just above Seth Curry, yes you read that right. The 1990s were a blessed time to be Kerr, who shot 50% or better from deep in five of the 10 seasons. That included back-to-back marks with the Cavaliers in 1991 and 1992, as well as three straight seasons with the Bulls from 1994 to 1996.
The two years that Kerr shot 50% and didn’t feature a Michael Jordan full time should be viewed as impressive. The Bulls lost the greatest player of all time, yet Kerr remained a vital piece for the team competing at the highest level. Despite shooting just 1.8 threes in his career, he took advantage of the opportunity.
Won 2015-2016 Coach Of The Year
When Kerr joined the coaching circle in 2014 for the fired Mark Jackson, there were some mixed feelings across the league. Jackson was beloved by most of his players, but the team felt they needed a change. It ended up being the right decision as Kerr led the team to a championship in his first season in 2015. Mike Budenholzer won the COY award that season as the Hawks finished with 60 wins.
The following year, Kerr won COY after leading the Warriors to the best overall record in the history of the NBA. The Warriors were 73-9 that season as Steph Curry was named unanimous MVP. Kerr’s 72-win Chicago Bulls team was the team that lost their spot in history, but in the end, many believe that team remains the greatest overall team in NBA history.
Led Golden State To Five NBA Finals Appearances, Three Rings
From 2015 to 2019, the Golden State Warriors were a dynasty. The player progression of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green made the team one of the fiercest teams to compete against. That included the Warriors making the NBA Finals five consecutive seasons with three titles.
Four of those meetings were against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors trio took down LeBron three of the four meetings, providing a major hit on the King’s legacy. The Warriors had such a great thing going for them, even convincing Kevin Durant to join the team in 2016 after the team won 73 games. With a full and healthy squad back this year, many expect to see the Warriors back in the NBA Finals conversation.
Coached Second-Best Team In NBA History
The 2015-2016 team won a league record of 73 wins, but for now, we are going to still consider this the second-greatest team of all time for one major reason. The Warriors failed to win the NBA championship, losing the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games. Curry had an amazing year, which netted him his second consecutive MVP award, but the result is what ultimately matters.
With that said, 73 wins in this league are nothing short of greatness. Only two teams have ever won 70 or more games in a season. The main constant between the two is that Kerr was associated with both of them.
Played On The Greatest Team In NBA History
The greatest team in NBA history remains the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. Not only did they win an NBA record for wins at the time, but they also dazzlingly captured the NBA championship. The postseason record for Chicago that year was 15-4 in comparison to the 15-9 record by Golden State in 2016. Not to mention, Chicago was a perfect 10-0 at home in the playoffs. Only the 1986-1987 Los Angeles Lakers have ever been 10-0 in a championship playoffs run.
Kerr was no slouch on that team either. He averaged 8.4 points in the regular season and shot 51.4% from the three-point range. He was a key reserve that played 18.8 minutes per game in the Finals. Altogether, Kerr has an amazing NBA resume. Down the road, nobody should be surprised if Kerr makes his way into the Hall of Fame.
Credit for the idea: Timeout Hoops