Thursday, March 22, 2018

The 45 Most Important Players to the Chicago Bulls Dynasty - #11 Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr
Steve Kerr, more commonly referred to as the Lebanon Leprechaun (I may be the first person to ever call him that, but he was born in Lebanon), came out of his career at Arizona ready to set the world on fire. This was especially true since he was a lights out shooter, setting a record for 3-point percentage at 57.3%. He was drafted in the second round by the nearby Phoenix Suns. His early career saw him bounce from the Suns to the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Orlando Magic before becoming a free agent in 1993. That is when he signed with the Chicago Bulls and would truly find his niche in the NBA.

Kerr had his best years with the Chicago Bulls, but a lot of this was due to the Bulls seeing value in his contributions and giving him more minutes than he received anywhere else. I mean, the guy shot over 50% from deep in his first season with the Cavaliers, and then shot 43% and 45% respectively in the two following years, but back then, NBA teams didn't know that threes were better since they are one more than two. In those two non-title winning years, Kerr backed up B.J. Armstrong, although he still finished fifth on the team in minutes as he received a lot of time at both guard positions off the bench.

Although B.J. Armstrong was lost in the expansion draft to the Toronto Raptors, Kerr's role only switched in that he was now backing up Ron Harper instead of Armstrong. His numbers during those championship years barely changed, which may have been the greatest attribute of Steve Kerr; you knew what you could expect from him. He wasn't going to be the best defender or playmaker, but when it came down to making shots, there weren't many guys you would rather have with the ball in his hands.

Since Steve Kerr was consistent in his play, there really aren't any interesting box scores to point to. There are no games where he went off for big points or completely took the game over in any way. That was never meant to be his role, and he never tried to fill it. Instead, Steve Kerr's Bulls tenure is one of moments, and there is one moment that stands above all others.

In Game Six of the 1997 NBA Finals, the Bulls were tied with the Utah Jazz at 86. time was running down on the shot clock, and the Jazz chose to double team Michael Jordan. With five seconds left on the clock, Jordan passed to Steve Kerr from 15 feet out, and this is what happened.

I highly recommend watching the video as the speech after is nearly as good as the shot.

But this is what Steve Kerr will always be remembered for as a player. To be fair, it's really damn tough to top hitting a game winning shot to win a NBA Championship. But it is also hilarious what are considered Steve Kerr's top 10 highlights in the following YouTube video.

1. Shot to win Championship - this one is totally legitimate.
2. Drive penetration, banks it in, and-one, a nice play.
3. Pump-fake, dribble, nails jumper.
4. Hits a floater.
5. Three-pointer in transition.
6. Off-balance three-pointer, another nice play.
7. Assist to Toni Kukoc
8. Rebound followed by assist to Jordan who hits a layup.
9. Gets pass from Michael Jordan, takes a dribble, hits mid-range jumper.
10. Give and Go with Bill Wennington.

Outside of number one, there are probably quite a few players who have better highlight videos from a single game, but hey, it worked for Kerr. And even after leaving the Bulls, he managed to join the San Antonio Spurs and win two more titles.

After his playing career was over, he bounced around between being a General Manager, broadcaster, and now the Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors, where he has won an additional two titles, giving him seven overall, one more than former teammate, Michael Jordan. Steve Kerr may not be flashy, but he sure as hell is effective. Even crazier, as long as his health holds out, he's nowhere near being finished.

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