Stephen Douglas Kerr, better known in the NBA as Steve Kerr, is making quite a name for himself in the head coaching circuit. His Golden State Warriors have a red-hot record of 21-2, and he recently became the first rookie head coach to win 21 of his first 23 games to start the season. It’s quite appropriate that his team is shooting a hair under 50% from the field, as Kerr definitely knows a thing or two about shooting.
In our first edition of Memory Lane Monday, we take you back to the most famous shot of Kerr’s career; his 17-footer that ended up clinching the Bulls’ 5th title in 1997.
The Bulls had just notched a tough and gritty win in Salt Lake City against the Utah Jazz two days prior to Kerr’s big shot. Jordan played his infamous “Flu Game”, scoring 38 points despite his taxing illness.
In this pivotal Game 6 back in Chicago, the Bulls struggled out the gate offensively, only able to score 37 points in the entire first half. Kerr had played roughly 25 min in this contest and ended the game with only 9 points, although his 8th and 9th points were the ones that mattered most. Although his impact on the overall game wasn’t pretty, the final shot has immortalized him in Bulls history forever.
Teammate Michael Jordan knew that the Jazz were looking to double team him on the final shot and gave the mental preparation Kerr needed to take the open shot if necessary. Here’s Jordan’s take on the sequence:
“When Phil drew up the play at the end, everybody in the gym, everybody on TV knew was coming to me. I looked at Steve and said, ‘This is your chance,’ because I knew Stockton is going to come over and help and I’m going to come to you. Tonight Steve Kerr earned his wings from my perspective.”
Take a look at the sequence below:
Here’s current Chicago Bulls TV announcer Neil Funk, (then radio play-by-play announcer), with his call on the shot during the live radio broadcast:
“Kerr, still with the dribble. Looking…dump to Pippen. Scottie, bumped by Shandon Anderson, hands it to Michael. Six seconds (on the shot clock)…five. Michael, in traffic, to Kerr. Fifteen-footer…YES!! He knocked it in! Kerr buried the jumper, five seconds left! The Bulls lead is two! Stevie Kerr knocked it in! He took the pass from Michael and stuffed the jumper! Wow!!!!”
The shot Kerr nailed often is overshadowed by the Flu Game that preceded it two days before, but as Kerr has stated in numerous interviews, “That’s the moment that every kid dreams of.”