Ex-Three-Point champ Steve Kerr reflects on NBA All-Star Weekend
Steve Kerr is no stranger to NBA All-Star Weekend. The 15-year veteran and five-time NBA champion made a name for himself the most accurate 3-point shooter in league history with a career .454 percentage from beyond the arc. His distance-shooting acumen earned him four invites to the Three-Point Contest, winning the competition in 1997.
Although Kerr never was selected to play in the All-Star Game, he will be calling this year's game at 8 p.m. Sunday alongside Marv Albert, Reggie Miller, Craig Sager and David Aldridge on TNT.
amNewYork caught up with Kerr for his thoughts on All-Star Weekend as well as his playing career.
What's your favorite part of All-Star Weekend? What it really is about is the All-Star Game and the players who make the league what it is today, and that's the stars. It's pretty impressive, even though the game doesn't really mean much, it's pretty impressive to sit there on the sidelines and look out and see the greatest players in the world on the court together.
Did you stay after you competed in the 3-Point Contest to watch the game the next day? Oh yeah, I always stuck around and watched the game. You know, I'd take my wife and my son and it was a pretty big deal and really fun to even just be a part of it.
Do you feel any players who won't be playing in the All-Star Game were snubbed? Well, you know, any time you say somebody got snubbed you have to say all right who should he have gone ahead of. ... In the West, it's easy to say, 'Boy, Steph Curry should have made it,' but you know over whom? ... I think it's just one of those things where someone's going to get squeezed out every year.
Who will win the All-Star Game? I guess if I had to pick one, I would pick the East because ... LeBron seems to enjoy playing in these games so much. I'm gonna take LeBron.
What was Michael Jordan, who turns 50 on Sunday, like during the All-Star Game? I know Doug Collins used to say that he coached Michael in an All-Star Game and he said when the fourth quarter came around he played like it was Game 7 of the finals.
What do you think of the All-Star Saturday Night competitions? I think they're great. If you can actually take part as a player, if you're not good enough to be an All-Star, but you can take part in one of the skills events, you're excited.
What are the keys to succeeding in the 3-Point Shootout? I finally won on my last trip and I always felt like looking back, I just cared too much the first three times around. I wasn't loose, I was a little nervous and it is a very awkward thing to go out there and shoot all of those shots in front of everyone without having any teammates. It's different. You're firing away 25 shots in a minute. You're just not used to that kind of event. So the first couple of times I was a little nervous and I had more success later on when I just sort of relaxed and said, 'Have fun, enjoy it, let it fly and don't worry about it.' I think that's probably the best advice I can give to people.
Is it challenging to shoot off a rack in the competition instead of receiving passes in a game? It's a little tricky. It really is. I practiced before hand and got used to it. A lot of players are more comfortable catching from a pass or even shooting off the dribble.
Were you and the others competitive during the 3-Point Shootout? Not really, you know I think everybody sort of encourages each other. The thing about the All-Star Weekened [is] you really are getting around from the intense competition that the regular season brings. ... There's a competition, but there's a relaxed feel to it. Guys are having fun and enjoying it and it's not out of control.
Who would you have most enjoyed facing in the 3-Point Contest? Well Larry Bird is the gold standard for the Three-Point Contest. ... Bird is just Bird. He's one of the greatest players ever. No offense to anybody else, but that's the guy that everybody would like to beat if possible because he's Larry Bird.
What are your thoughts on the Slam Dunk Contest? I think it's gotten harder and harder because I don't know what else these guys can do. There's only so much creativity you can come up with, but it seems like guys every year come up with something a little different.
What was your favorite dunk from the competition? Going way back as a fan, the Jordan-Dominique Wilkins dunk-off was really incredible, but in more modern times I think Andre Iguodala had one of the most amazing dunks I've ever seen when he put it off the side of the backboard and then reverse dunked it on the other side. I have never seen anyone do that.
Do you believe anyone will surpass your career record for 3-point accuracy? Probably. Three-point shooting has gotten so much better over the years. More and more guys are shooting the three consistently. Steph Curry is probably the best shooter in the game now and he shoots a lot more threes than I ever did and, he shoots tougher ones because they're off the dribble and he still shoots 45 percent. There's plenty of guys out there who are phenomenal shooters who are capable of putting together a great run and passing that record.
Does the 72-win Bulls team stand out above the rest of your NBA titles in your mind? Not necessarily, that's what makes winning a title special. ... The 72 win team, it stands out, but we won 69 the next year and won another title. There's not that much difference, but it's really about each individual season is different and they're all just amazing feats.
Were you and your teammates during 1995-96 aware of the history you were making? I think we all knew that it was a special era, but you never really take the time and stop and think about that. You just go. You just play. We were always very aware of the historical importance of what we were doing and where we stood. We were trying to beat that record of 69 for sure, we wanted it.
What were the biggest shots of your career? The most important shot I hit was the one in '97 that won the last game in the finals. It was like a 15, 16 footer. It was actually a pretty easy shot. ... I think the most memorable game for me was my last year [in 2003] with the Spurs where I came in off the bench in the Western Conference Finals and I barely played and my career was pretty much done, and I came in and had one more sort of moment where I made four 3s in the fourth quarter and we won. It was just an amazing night for me. The reason that stands out is because, number one, it was my last year and it was kind of my last hurrah and I was 37 years old at the time and I thought those days were behind me, but I was able to have one more amazing night and I retired a couple weeks later. The other reason it was memorable is because it was one of those rare nights where you just kind of get in the zone and you don't think, you just react and you play. For that to happen so late in my career is really special.