'The Last Dance' Episode 8: Steve Kerr stood up to Michael Jordan at practice session and 'earned his respect'
Jordan and Kerr relive the moment they had a fight while practicing after the loss to Orlando Magic in '95
Spoilers for 'The Last Dance' Episode 8
This was an incident Steve Kerr remembers like it happened yesterday. It was something he wouldn't forget and neither would Michael Jordan. Soon after his comeback and the heartbreaking loss to Orlando Magic in the 1995 Eastern Conference finals, Jordan had decided to switch back to that beast mode he was in prior to his retirement. He wanted his edge back. And it wasn't just him. He wanted to rub that intensity off on his teammates. However, Kerr, who was at the receiving end of the high-octane practice sessions wasn't pleased with Jordan.
"He’s talking all kinds of trash,” Kerr explained. "I’m pissed because we’re getting our ass kicked." And on his part, Jordan reasoned why the rough and tough factor was an absolute necessity. “I’m getting mad because if you’re 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. They’re very physical." Soon enough, Jordan's gameplay in the scrimmages became a lot more physical.
And Kerr just had enough of it. “I have a lot of patience as a human being. But I tend to snap at some point because I’m extremely competitive, too. I’m just not really good enough to back it up, usually. But I’m going. I’m going to fight," Kerr said. That moment, it was Kerr who hit Jordan in the chest and was socked in return in the face. Jordan was kicked out of practice by coach Phil Jackson and the star admitted he had "lost it for a second".
The docu-series captures the line where Jordan said: “I just beat up the littlest guy on the court, I feel this small." What followed was some classic patch-up between the mates. Jordan got hold of Kerr's number and said, "It had nothing to do with you. I feel bad.” Kerr also added it was the best thing he ever did by standing up for himself. "He tested everybody he played with. I stood up to him."
"He earned my respect. He wasn’t willing to back down to be a pawn in this whole process," Jordan remarked. And that was one of the highlights that saw Kerr conclude, by saying, "Our relationship dramatically improved in our trust in each other. It was like, ‘All right; we got that out of the way.’ We’re going to war together.'"
'The Last Dance' airs on Sundays at 9 pm ET on ESPN.