Chansky’s Notebook: Tragedy And Triumph

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Steve Kerr had one of the most poignant moments in The Last Dance.

On the last night of the 10-part documentary on the 1990 Chicago Bulls, teammate Steve Kerr was asked during his one-on-one interview if he ever discussed with Michael how their two fathers had died.

Kerr said no because he felt the stories were nobody else’s business, even though the whole world knew both of them.

James Jordan, 56, was murdered while sleeping in his car between Charlotte and Wilmington, and it prompted Michael to follow through with his first retirement in 1993 that he had discussed with his Pops.

Almost 10 years before that, 52-year-old Malcolm Kerr had been slain by Islamic Jihad militants outside of his office at the American University of Lebanon in Beirut, where Steve was born and spent most of his teenage years. It was so tragic, so foreign and so similar to the one his Bulls’ superstar teammate later suffered.

Kerr was a freshman at Arizona at the time after receiving a last-minute scholarship with the Wildcats. He buried himself in basketball and went on to become a two-time All-Pac 10 player who led his team into the 1988 Final Four with a 70-52 win over Carolina in Seattle.

Kerr, Tom Tolbert and Sean Elliott were the stars of that second-ranked team, combining for 59 points in the second-half runaway after the Tar Heels had led by two at the half. Since playing through the family heartbreak, Kerr was the favorite of Wildcat fans who chanted his name “STEVE! KERR!” each time he made a 3-pointer.

He made 3 for 4 in that game on his way to setting an NCAA single-season record by making 114 of 199 for 57.3 percent. His No. 25 was retired at Arizona – just the beginning for the lightly recruited kid.

He was the 50th player chosen in the 1988 draft and went on to win five NBA championships, three with the Bulls and two with San Antonio. Included were big shots in the Bulls’ last two title runs after Jordan returned from his first retirement.

Of course, Kerr has won three more rings to date as head coach of the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry. Tragedy and triumph.

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