The two guards were matched up in a scrimmage. It was intense. Jordan had heard the critics after the Bulls’ playoff loss to the Orlando Magic and intended to silence them. He averaged 26.9 points in the final 17 regular-season games after coming out of retirement, but shot only 41 percent from the field. The postseason defeat to the Magic in the conference semifinals, his first series loss since 1990, had some suggesting his best years were behind him. At 32 years old, Jordan was hell-bent on proving otherwise. It was palpable in every drill, every time down the floor.
He and Kerr talked trash on a couple of possessions, and then it escalated.
“I took exception to something he said,” Kerr says. “So I was talking back and I don’t think Michael appreciated that … and we got in the lane and he gave me a forearm shiver to the chest and I pushed him back. And next thing you know, our teammates were pulling him off of me.”