In the 1986-87 NCAA basketball season, the game of basketball was forever changed. It was the introductory year of the 3-point shot, and a quarter century later the long ball stands as one of the biggest additions to a major sport.
Oddly enough, just a year after its creation, one Arizona Wildcat made his career all about the shot -- Steve Kerr's ridiculous records from the 1987-88 season are still standing. Jason King of ESPN published this story this past November, and it's an important historical fact that Wildcat fans should remember.
Under Lute Olson, Kerr shot a unheard-of 57.3 percent from beyond the arc as the Wildcats made a run to the Final Four.The story is more interesting considering the development of the 3-point line and the focus on becoming the master at making it. 25 years after its induction, no player has passed up Kerr's accuracy despite Kerr growing up without the shot as part of basketball culture.
"There was a lot of buzz about it," Kerr told ESPN of its inception to the game. "I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? I’m going to get all these open shots and I’m going to get three points for them?’ Most of my shots came from out there anyway."
The line was recently extended in college basketball, and in a game of inches, it makes Kerr's record even more insurmountable.
"For a long time, guys were just firing away from out there that weren’t great shooters," Kerr told King. "It doesn’t make for great basketball if everyone is just jacking up 3s trying to even up the odds. I’d like to see it used efficiently and with a purpose. There are a lot of guys shooting it that shouldn’t be. It can definitely get out of hand."
Ever the competitor, Kerr tells King that the only thing he remembers from that historic season with Arizona is shooting terribly in the Final Four loss to the Oklahoma Sooners.
But Kerr would get over it.
He took 1599 shots from beyond the arc during his NBA career, and perhaps he can be dubbed one of the first true 3-point specialists in the league that utilizes them but often cannot find anyone good enough to keep around longterm.
No, Kerr wasn't a true point guard nor anything special on defense. But he either got lucky or was an integral part of winning five NBA Championships.
His role in Arizona Wildcats' history has never been in question.
Yet his historic role in both college and professional basketball can often be forgotten.