Michael Jordan wasn’t always the nicest guy on the court, and most of the time, he didn’t care. However, after punching Steve Kerr, he knew he had to make changes.
The Bulls legend is most well-known for his accomplishments, winning six NBA finals off three three-peats, being a six-time NBA Finals MVP, and winning 5 MVP’s, but he’s also known for his aggressive attitude.
He didn’t back down from anyone, including his teammates. He expected all of his teammates to be equally as aggressive and committed to their art as he was, and sometimes that expectation would spill out in ways Jordan wouldn’t want it to.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 21, 2016
Michael Jordan regretted punching Steve Kerr during practice
Even though Jordan and Kerr would win three championships together, their relationship didn’t exactly start off in the best of ways.
During a heated practice session during the Bulls’ storied 1995-96 season, Jordan punched Kerr in the face which resulted in head coach Phil Jackson throwing him out.
Looking back on it, Jordan knew he had made a regrettable decision. Being aggressive is one thing, but lashing out on your teammates is another thing.
Jordan would later say about the incident:
““I just beat up the littlest guy on the (expletive) court. I feel this small. It made me look at myself and say, ‘You know what? You’re really being an idiot about this whole process.’ I knew I had to be more respectful of my teammates.”
However, Steve Kerr also acknowledged that talking out the incident and making up afterwards proved to be key for the Bulls success going forward. He would say:
“We talked it out, and it was probably, in a weird way, the best thing that I ever did, was stand up for myself with him because he tested everybody he played with, and I stood up to him. From that point on, our relationship dramatically improved and our trust in each other, everything. It was like, ‘All right, we got that out of the way. We’re going to war together.’”
So, in some way, the punch actually ended up being the best thing that could have happened for the two. Of course as everyone knows, the Bulls would finish that season with a then NBA-record 72 wins winning the title along the way too. Jordan picked up his fourth ring, kickstartinghis second three-peat, and Kerr was a crucial part of that run.
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 11, 2020