Johnny Kerr


Johnny Kerr

John G. “Red” Kerr (born July 17, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois) is a retired American NBA basketball player who now works as a pre-game and half-time host for Chicago Bulls' home games. He has also served as the first coach for two respective NBA expansion franchises: the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns.

Playing career

Although Johnny Kerr’s first passion was soccer, an eight-inch growth spurt during his senior year at Tilden Technical High School compelled him to turn his attention to basketball. The 6' 9" center soon led his school’s basketball team to the 1950 Chicago Public League Championship. After high school, he attended the University of Illinois, where he scored 1,299 points during his three years with the school’s varsity team. The highlight of his collegiate career occurred in 1952, when he helped the Fighting Illini win the Big Ten Championship and advance to the NCAA Final Four. At Illinois Kerr was also a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity.

In 1954, the Syracuse Nationals selected Johnny Kerr with the sixth overall pick of the NBA Draft. During his first season (1954-1955), Kerr averaged 10.5 points and 6.6 rebounds and helped the Nationals capture their first NBA Championship. He would go on to become a three time All-Star (1956, 1959, 1963) with the Nationals, despite playing in the shadow of future Hall-of–Famer Dolph Schayes.

In 1963, the Nationals relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and became known as the 76ers. Two years later, Kerr was traded to the Baltimore Bullets for Wali Jones. After averaging 11.0 points and 8.3 rebounds during the 1965-1966 season, Kerr was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Expansion Draft. However, Kerr voluntarily retired so that he could become the coach of his hometown’s new basketball team. He ended his career with respectable totals of 12,480 points and 10,092 rebounds, and he held the NBA record for most consecutive games played (844) until 1983 when he was surpassed by Randy Smith.

Coaching career

Kerr’s Chicago Bulls went 33-48 in 1966-1967 and became the first expansion team to win a playoff berth in its inaugural season. For this accomplishment, Kerr was rewarded the NBA Coach of the Year Award. The Bulls went 29-53 the following season, rallying from a 1-15 start to earn another playoff berth. However, feuds with team owner Dick Klein forced Kerr to leave the Bulls during the summer of 1968 and sign with the Phoenix Suns, another expansion team in need of its first coach. Unfortunately, the Suns finished with a 16-66 record in 1968-1969, and after starting the 1969-1970 season with a 15-23 record, Kerr was forced to resign.

Broadcasting career

Despite resigning as coach, Kerr stayed with the Suns franchise for the remainder of the 1969-1970 season, working as a broadcaster with Hot Rod Hundley. That summer, he accepted an administrative position with the ABA’s Virginia Squires [ [http://www.nba.com/features/kerr_070222.html NBA.com Broadcaster of the Week: Johnny Kerr, Chicago Bulls ] ] , but he returned to broadcasting in 1974, becoming a television color commentator for the Chicago Bulls. (Kerr’s adversary Klein had been ostracized by other members of team management several years earlier.)

Described as "a raconteur blessed with great wit and myriad stories", [Marty Farmer. " [http://www.nba.com/bulls/history/kerr_feature_080328.html One of a Kind] ". bulls.com. March 28, 2008. Retrieved on July 15, 2008.] Kerr served as the Bulls' color commentator until May 6, 2008, when the team announced that his duties would be limited to pre-game and half-time shows for Chicago Bulls' home games. According to the "Chicago Tribune", Kerr no longer wanted to deal with the rigors of traveling the Bulls' 82-game schedule. [Ed Sherman. " [http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/hockey/blackhawks/cs-080506-chicago-bulls-broadcasters,1,3393004.story Bulls shake up broadcast teams] . "Chicago Tribune". May 6, 2008. Retrieved on May 6, 2008.]

Trivia

During Michael Jordan's career with the Chicago Bulls, a ritual evolved whereby Jordan would clap rosin powder in close proximity of Kerr if Kerr was seated at the courtside broadcaster's table. If Jordan was not present for a game, then Scottie Pippen or some other player would often continue the ritual.

Notes

External links

* [http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/k/kerrre01.html BasketballReference.com: Red Kerr (as player)]
* [http://www.basketball-reference.com/coaches/kerrre01c.html BasketballReference.com: Red Kerr (as coach)]


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