February 26, 2009 - The Chicago Bulls are deeply saddened to announce that Bulls legend Johnny “Red” Kerr has passed away at the age of 76.
“The entire Bulls organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Johnny “Red” Kerr. Johnny spent his entire life around the great game of basketball. His name was synonymous with basketball, both here in Chicago, and throughout the entire NBA,” said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “Those that were fortunate enough to have known Johnny were touched by both his tremendous compassion for people, and his life-long passion for the game of basketball. We will miss him greatly. Our sincere condolences, and our thoughts and prayers, go out to the entire Kerr family.”
Kerr, a native of Chicago, was a part of the Chicago Bulls organization in various capacities for 35 of the franchise’s 43 seasons, most notably as a team broadcaster for more than 30 years. He also served as the team’s first head coach in 1966, and earned NBA Coach of the Year honors for the 1966-67 season, when he directed the first-year Bulls to a playoff appearance. Kerr is the only head coach in NBA history to lead an expansion team to the playoffs during its inaugural season. As head coach of the Bulls, Kerr directed the team to a record of 62-101 (.380). “Red” was also the franchise’s business manager for two seasons (1973-74, 1974-75).
"The NBA family is deeply saddened with the passing of Johnny "Red" Kerr and our deepest condolences go to the Kerr family," added NBA Commissioner David Stern. "It is truly unfortunate we mourn Johnny's passing on the same day we lost another Bulls great, Norm Van Lier. Johnny was an icon in the city of Chicago and synonymous with NBA basketball for more than five decades. He was an All-Star player and a record setting coach, and for the last 34 years brought that experience and his well-known sense of humor to Bulls broadcasts. The NBA lost a great colleague, a true legend and a wonderful friend. We will miss him."
“Johnny Kerr was a teammate and coach of mine," stated Utah Jazz Head Coach Jerry Sloan. "He was the man responsible for me being in Chicago, and once there, he was the guy who gave me the confidence to play in the league. I had the good fortune of speaking with him just a couple weeks ago and I’m glad we were able to have that time. He was a tremendous person and will certainly be missed. My condolences go out to his family.”
In addition to his Bulls ties, Kerr played 12 seasons (1954-1966) in the NBA for the Syracuse Nationals, Philadelphia 76ers and the Baltimore Bullets. During his 12 years in the NBA, his teams never missed the playoffs, highlighted by Syracuse’s run to the NBA Championship in 1955. From 1954 to1965, Kerr appeared in a then-NBA record 844 consecutive games. A three-time NBA All-Star, he finished his career with more than 10,000 points and over 10,000 rebounds. In all, he appeared in 905 NBA games and averaged 13.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg and 2.2 apg in 30.7 mpg. In recognition of his significant contributions, for over 50 years, to the game of basketball as a player, coach, administrator and broadcaster, Kerr received the 2009 John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his five children, Ed, Matt, Jim, Bill and Essie, along with 10 grandchildren.