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The Steve Kerr Story: How A Family Tragedy Helped Kerr Bond With Michael Jordan

The Steve Kerr Story: How A Family Tragedy Helped Kerr Bond With Michael Jordan

When people think of the greatest three-point shooters in NBA history, most think of players like Ray Allen, Stephen Curry, or Reggie Miller.

Now, you can't go wrong with any of these players, in fact, the three players I've mentioned have the top three most three-point makes in league history.

But what if I told you that statistically, none of the above-mentioned players are the greatest three-pointer shooter.

The player with the greatest three-point percent is current Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr.

Kerr shot an incredible 45.4% from long range during his fifteen-year career. He made 726 three-pointers out of 1599 attempts.

As most people know, Kerr won three championships with the Chicago Bulls in the mid to late 90s. Then, he joined the San Antonio Spurs in 1999 and won another title.

After one year in Portland, playing for the Blazers, Kerr would rejoin the San Antonio Spurs in 2002-03 just in time to win his fifth title as a player.

Kerr then took over as the Golden State Warriors head coach in 2014. He replaced former NBA player, Mark Jackson.

Kerr became the winningest rookie head coach in league history when he led the Warriors to 67 wins in the 2014-15 NBA season.

The Warriors, led by Kerr's coaching, would go to the NBA Finals five straight years, winning three titles. They also set the record for most wins in an NBA season with 73 (2015-16 season).

The most famous moment of Steve Kerr's underrated career came in game six of the 1997 NBA Finals. The Chicago Bulls were playing the Utah Jazz, and the Bulls held a 3-2 series lead.

The Bulls certainly did not want the series to go to a game seven, but the Jazz pushed them to the limit in game six.

The game was tied at 86 with 28 seconds remaining in the game and famously, the sideline cameras caught Michael Jordan telling Kerr to be ready to take the final shot when John Stockton doubled him.

Stockton would double Jordan, and Kerr would get the ball, take the shot, and make the shot.

It took a lot of confidence in Michael Jordan to trust Steve Kerr with taking the championship game-winning shot.

Jordan was famously known not to trust his teammates.

So, how did Kerr earn his trust? In a 1995 practice, things got heated between Jordan and Kerr. This led to Jordan punching Kerr in the face.

How did this happen? Two teammates getting so heated that it would result in an altercation, may sound bizarre to the average NBA fan, but this happens regularly.

In this situation, the Bulls were scrimmaging and Kerr was guarding Jordan. After a few no calls from Phil Jackson, the Bulls legendary coach, Jordan got upset.

For the rest of the story, let's let Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr take over:

“So one day at practice, Phil puts Steve Kerr guarding me,” Jordan said.

“We're on opposite sides of the scrimmage, and he's talking all kinds of trash, and I'm pissed because we're getting our ass kicked,” Kerr explained.

“Phil sensed my aggression, but he was trying to tone me down, and he starts calling these ticky-tack fouls,” Jordan said.

“Now I'm getting mad because for you to be protecting this guy, that's not going to help us when we play New York. That's not going to help us when we play these teams that are very physical. The next time he did it, I just haul off on Kerr. When I foul Steve Kerr, I said, 'Now, that's a f*****g foul.'”

Michael Jordan is the ultimate competitor, and he struck fear in opposing players and teammates alike. But Steve Kerr wasn't going to back down to him or anyone, even if it meant taking a punch to the eye.

“I have a lot of patience as a human being, but I tend to snap at some point because I'm extremely competitive, too," Kerr said. "I'm just not really good enough to back it up, usually. But I'm going to fight.”

Not only did Kerr win Jordan's respect by not backing down to him, but Jordan soon learned of a family tragedy Kerr had suffered that felt all too similar to his own family tragedy.

The Chicago Bulls won three straight titles from 1991 to 1993. Then, on July 23, 1993, the unthinkable happened.

Michael Jordan's father, James Jordan went missing. He would later be found murdered. This terrible event led to Michael Jordan's first retirement from the NBA.

Most people know this terrible story about Michael Jordan's father, but what if I told you Steve Kerr's father was also murdered.

Steve Kerr was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to Ann and Malcolm H. Kerr. Malcolm was a university professor specializing in the Middle East and the Arab world.

Malcolm became a professor at the American University of Beirut for three years before becoming assistant professor at the Department of Political Science in 1962.

After moving to the United States to teach, Malcolm returned to Beirut in 1982 when the presidency of the American University of Beirut was offered to him.

When Malcolm Kerr returned to Beirut, it was during the Lebanese Civil War. It was an unsafe time for anyone to be in Beirut, but for an American, it was extremely unsafe.

This didn't faze Malcolm. He didn't believe the violence would affect his family.

Malcolm then allowed Lebanese residents to use vacant buildings at the American University of Beirut to avoid the oncoming Israeli assault.

This angered Israeli officers, and when they demanded to inspect the university for potential terrorists, Malcolm refused.

“There are no terrorists on the AUB campus,” Malcolm said. “If you’re looking for terrorists, look in your own army for those who’ve destroyed Beirut.”

On a rainy morning of January 18, 1984, Malcolm stepped into a hallway leading to his office at the American University of Beirut.

Suddenly, two armed men appeared and opened fire on Malcolm. He was shot twice in the back of the head and died instantly.

The killers fled and were never identified. This wasn't just a senseless murder, it was an assassination.

President Ronald Reagan put out a statement following Malcolm Kerr's assassination:

“Dr. Kerr’s untimely and tragic death at the hands of these despicable assassins must strengthen our resolve not to give in to the acts of terrorists. Terrorism must not be allowed to take control of the lives, actions, or future of ourselves and our friends.”

Steve Kerr was off at college, playing for the University of Arizona. When Kerr found out the news about his father, he was in his dorm room.

“So I received a phone call in the middle of the night from a family friend,” Kerr said. “My phone rang in my dorm at 3 o’clock in the morning, so I knew something was up. He just said, ‘Steve, I have terrible news.’ So… yeah. Basketball was the one thing I could do to take my mind off what happened. So I went to practice the next day. I didn’t know what else to do.”

That day changed Steve Kerr's life forever, and today he's a major supporter of gun control.

Unfortunately, both Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr's fathers had to be taken away from them, but when Jordan found out about Steve's story, a bond was formed between the two.


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