Tags: Steve Kerr | tragedy | Beirut | Hezbollah | father

NBA Coach Steve Kerr Overcomes Terror Tragedy in Family

By    |   Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 04:49 PM

As the Golden State Warriors await Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the tragic story of their coach's father is being retold.

Steve Kerr, who played in the NBA and won five championships, is in his first season as Warriors' head coach. But it was the assassination of his father in 1984 that helped shape him into a fierce competitor.

Malcolm Kerr was a Middle East expert and was 18 months into his stint as president of the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, when he was shot and killed by two Islamic terrorists from the group that eventually became known as Hezbollah — a terror organization backed by Iran.

Steve Kerr was 18 at the time and was a member of the University of Arizona basketball team. His coach, Lute Olson, was in his first year at the helm and consoled Kerr in his dorm room as his teammates came to express their condolences.

Kerr turned the anger he had from the death of his father into motivation to win, which is exactly what he did. He was a prolific shooter in college and helped the Wildcats advance to the Final Four of the 1988 NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament.

Kerr finished his NBA playing career with five championships — three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs — and an impressive .454 3-point percentage.

Some basketball insiders wondered whether Kerr, who is known as a nice guy, would be "mean enough" to survive as an NBA coach.

"It doesn't seem that Steve's enough of a jerk to be a really successful coach," Kerr's high school coach, Jerry Marvin, told ESPN. "Is he mean enough or nasty enough to get on people, which you have to do as a coach?"

The death of Kerr's father, however, toughened him up and turned him into a fierce competitor who could handle anything.

During his senior year at Arizona, for example, Kerr was the victim of hecklers when Arizona was taking on Arizona State. Chanting "P-L-O" and "Where's your dad?" the group of 10 to 15 fans forced Kerr over to the bench during warm-ups as his eyes welled up. He quickly recovered, scoring 20 points in the first half, which included sinking his first six 3-point attempts.

"There's no question they made me play my best," Kerr said at the time, according to ESPN.

Kerr continued to stand up in the face of adversity during his NBA career. A run-in with Michael Jordan during a 1995 practice, for example, ended with Kerr receiving a black eye.

"From that point on, I've always respected him. He didn't give up. He fought back. He may have gotten the worst end of it, but I respected him. One hundred percent," said Jordan, reports ESPN.

Kerr hit the game-winning shot during the 1997 NBA Finals that clinched the title for the Bulls after Jordan passed him the ball with the clock running out.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers is Thursday night.

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As the Golden State Warriors await Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the tragic story of their coach's father is being retold.
Steve Kerr, tragedy, Beirut, Hezbollah, father
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2015-49-03
Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 04:49 PM
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