Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bulls Legend Johnny "Red" Kerr Honored with Bill Wennington Statue

CHICAGO -- In a touching ceremony at Tuesday night's game against the Detroit Pistons, former Chicago Bulls coach and announcer Johnny "Red" Kerr was honored by the team with a statue of former Bulls center Bill Wennington. On hand to celebrate Kerr's contributions to basketball in Chicago, Wennington said, "I think it's great that they'd give Red a statue of me. I look wonderful in brown."

The ceremony, lasting nearly 40 minutes, was a celebration of the 35 years of Kerr's service to the Bulls organization. Called the third best center of his era by the surprisingly agile Dolph Schayes, Kerr was known for his high post mastery, a skill shared by Wennington. Also in common with Wennington was Kerr's announcing career, which lasted more than 30 years.

After the Bulls' first three championships, Kerr spoke of the Bulls' need to sign a goateed center who could shoot a 12-foot jumper. Out of pity, the Bulls signed Wennington and soon after won three consecutive titles, an accomplishment usually attributed to this transaction. Kerr was also instrumental in the creation of the "Beef Wennington," a quarter-pound burger with cheese, bacon, onions, pickles, mustard and barbecue sauce that was served at Chicago-area McDonald's.

These connections made the decision to memorialize Kerr with a Wennington statue an easy one for Bulls general manager John Paxson. Said Paxson, "The only thing Johnny loved more than basketball was Bill Wennington. The only thing he loved more than Bill Wennington was the Beef Wennington."

Flanked by basketball luminaries such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Stacey King as well as family members, Kerr was presented the statue at halftime of the game. He was also given a collage made my local sixth grader Terrance McKenzie.

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