Steve Kerr: Getting Punched by Michael Jordan 'Helped Our Relationship'


Thank you, sir, may I have another?

Steve Kerr has long maintained he harbors no ill will toward toward Michael Jordan after His Airness famously punched Kerr during a Bulls practice in 1995 -- and Kerr even thinks it was for the best.

Appearing on the NBA on TNT on Wednesday night, Kerr, featured in the hit ESPN documentary The Last Dance, explained how the famous altercation "turned out to be a good thing," as host Ernie Johnson put it.

"I would say it definitely helped our relationship, and that probably sounds really weird," Kerr said. "I wouldn't recommend that to anybody at home. ... Not always a way to mend fences."

The incident and others like it were a byproduct of a different era, the Golden State Warriors coach explained.

"I think it has to be understood in the context of intense competition. One thing that was more prevalent back then than it is now, is the intensity of practices back then. I think we're smarter now with preserving our players. We don't have as many practice days now -- it's more about rest and recovery. And so there's not as much competition. And most of that is good -- LeBron is in what, his 17th year or 18th year? I think Michael Jordan only played 12 or 13 years.

"My point is, practices were really intense. I think they were a huge part of the Bulls and Michael setting a standard for our play. So practice fights -- not only on that team, there were probably three of them during the year on that team -- but every team I played on in the late 80s and early 90s, there were a few practice fights. There was just a lot of competition, and things would get out of hand, and then it wasn't really a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

The Jordan-Kerr scuffle came at a time when Jordan was reasserting himself as the team's leader upon returning from his sabbatical in minor league baseball, according to Kerr's old accounts of the incident. Kerr challenged Jordan's infamous bullying tactics with some dirty practice play of his own, which apparently fueled the dust-up.

Kerr reportedly ended up with a black eye but says the team was all the better for it.

"But for me in that case, Michael was definitely testing me, and I responded, and I feel like I kind of passed the test, and he trusted me more afterwards."