Michael Jordan is an intense competitor who often pushed the limits of his teammates to help him achieve his goals. Hence, his now-infamous confrontation with Steve Kerr which ended with MJ punching Kerr in the face. In today's NBA, an altercation like that could have ripped apart a locker room. But Kerr believes the incident actually helped build team chemistry.
"For me in that case, Michael was definitely testing me, and I responded," Kerr said during a remote interview with NBA on TNT's Ernie Johnson. "I feel like I passed the test and he tested me more afterwards."
Kerr also explained that the incident was not as dramatic as it seemed. The Warriors coach detailed how intense practices used to be in the late 80s and early 90s, which bred an environment where fights were bound to happen.
"One thing that was more prevalent back then, than now, is the intensity of practices back then," Kerr said. "My point is, practices were really intense. They were a huge part of the Bulls and Michael setting a standard for our play. Practice fights —not only on that team, there were probably three of 'em during the year on that team—on every team I played on in the late 80s, early 90s, there were a few practice fights. There was just a lot of competition, things would get out of hand, and it really wasn't a huge deal in the grand scheme of things."
Kerr and Jordan were teammates on the Bulls from 1995-1998, and the trust Jordan had in Kerr was evident on the court. During the 1997 NBA Finals, Jordan felt comfortable enough giving the ball to Kerr in the clutch and allowing him to sink the title-winning shot. This set the stage for the 1997-1998 season, which is depicted in ESPN's The Last Dance.