Practice ends Tuesday at the Berto Center, the Bulls' workout facility, and Kerr is the last one to leave the court, shooting his customary 100 free throws. Ninety-nine go in. Given Kerr's work ethic and heady play, many basketball people assume he is destined to coach. But everyone he knows in that profession has advised him against it. Now Kerr's setting his sights on a broadcasting job after he retires. (He has one year left on his contract.)
Stashed somewhere in the Pacific Palisades home where Ann Kerr still lives is a cassette tape that could ruin her son's broadcasting career before it gets started. It's a greatest hits compilation of the on-air prank calls made by Steve and some friends when they were teenagers. On one call he engaged a radio psychologist for 45 minutes, posing as a kid who suspected he was adopted, before letting loose and mimicking the radio station's jingle.
If Steve ever had any doubts that Mar-got was the perfect woman for him, they were dispelled after her own radio call-in debut a few years ago. Kerr was playing for Cleveland at the time, and after Cavaliers coach Lenny Wilkens told the team that little-used reserve swingman Jimmy Oliver would start that night, Margot called a sports-talk station without revealing her identity and suggested it would be a good move if the Cavs started Oliver. "What a horrible idea," the unsuspecting host bellowed. "We'll see," Margot replied.
Last year a Chicago sports-talk host, former Chicago Bears tackle Dan Jiggetts, was ripping Bulls center Luc Longley for being overweight. Margot called in from her car, this time identifying herself as Kerr's wife, and sprang to Longley's defense. She told Jiggetts, "From what I've seen, Dan, you're not so svelte yourself." Jiggetts cracked up, and a radio star was born. Now Margot is a frequent caller on Chicago talk shows.
On Tuesday night the United Center is rocking for a rematch of last year's NBA Finals pitting the Bulls against the Seattle SuperSonics. Jordan, Rodman and Scottie Pippen of the Bulls and Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp of the Sonics have their moments, but the game doesn't pick up until the fourth quarter. With 9:57 to go Kerr nails a three-pointer to tie the game at 62, then makes two steals (one of which leads to a hoop) in 33 seconds. The game goes into overtime, and the Sonics take an 80-78 lead. With 2:59 remaining, Longley delivers a bounce pass into the paint to Kerr, who goes right to the basket fearlessly. He gets nailed by 6'5" Nate McMillan, but the ball goes through the hoop. The free throw, of course, is good. His totals: 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, with two assists and three steals. With three seconds to go, Jordan hits a pair of free throws, and the Bulls win 89-87. As the buzzer sounds, Kerr and Jordan slap hands and revel in the moment.
It's one of those images those who grew up with Kerr would like to freeze and preserve for their own children, if only to show that dreams can come true. But Kerr is embarrassed by the corniness of his story. For him it's easier to file it away as a comedy than as a drama. "I don't think a day goes by where I don't think, How the hell did this ever happen?" he says. "It's like Walter Mitty, only it's the real thing. Or maybe Forrest Gump is more appropriate. He kept showing up in places out of nowhere, and it was like, How the hell did he get here?"