Johnny "Red" Kerr, 76, the former Chicago Bulls coach who spent more than three decades as a broadcaster for the NBA team, died of prostate cancer Thursday at his home in Chicago, Bulls spokesman Tim Hallam said.
Kerr’s death is a double blow for the Bulls, following the death also Thursday of Norm Van Lier, one of the most popular players in Bulls history. Van Lier was 61.
A 6-foot, 9-inch, 230-pound center who was nicknamed "Red" for his hair color, Kerr played 12 seasons (1954-1966) in the NBA for the Syracuse Nationals, Philadelphia 76ers and the Baltimore Bullets. The Nationals won their only NBA championship in Kerr's rookie season. From 1954 to 1965, the three-time NBA All-Star appeared in a then-NBA record 844 consecutive games. (Former Laker A.C. Green holds the record at 978.)
Kerr served as the Bulls' first head coach and received NBA Coach of the Year honors for leading the expansion team to the playoffs in the inaugural 1966-67 season. He left after the next season and coached the expansion Phoenix Suns for a season and a half.
His next stop was the upstart American Basketball Assn. He became general manager of the Virginia Squires and signed future Hall of Famer Julius Erving to his first pro basketball contract.
Kerr headed back to Chicago in 1973 and became business manager of the Bulls for two seasons before moving to the broadcast booth. He was a Bulls TV and radio analyst for 33 years.
Born in Chicago in 1932, Kerr was a star center at the University of Illinois, where he led the Illini to a Big Ten title and the NCAA Final Four in 1952.
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