If ESPN’s “The Last Dance” has reinforced anything, it’s how demanding — and, sometimes, abusive — Michael Jordan could be of his teammates. Jordan belittled team general manager Jerry Krause in the first episode, and called out Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc in the second. Jordan even questioned Scottie Pippen’s decision to have surgery.
One person Jordan hasn’t talked about yet is Steve Kerr. While Jordan and Kerr are friendly today, that wasn’t the case right after Jordan returned from his baseball sabbatical. During training camp of the 1995-96 season, the two got into a fight that left Kerr with a black eye.
While you might think that scuffle would lead to tension between the two, it had the opposite effect. Kerr believes the fight actually helped his relationship with Jordan.
Kerr recounted that story to TNT’s Ernie Johnson on Wednesday.
It’s not the first time Kerr has implied the fight was a good thing. He made similar comments in 2013, saying the fight resulted in a “totally different relationship” between the two players.
As Kerr explained, he believed Jordan was testing Kerr during practice and trying to get under his skin. When Kerr gave it back and eventually brawled with Jordan, Kerr “passed the test.” After that fight, Kerr said Jordan trusted him more.
That last part will be relevant during “The Last Dance.” Jordan trusted Kerr to hit a pretty big shot during the 1996-97 season.
While Kerr’s fight with Jordan resulted in a happy ending, you shouldn’t go out and allow someone to punch you in the face in order to gain their respect. As Kerr joked immediately after admitting the fight improved his relationship with Jordan, “I wouldn’t recommend that.”
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