Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Jerry Krause: Finally Getting the Credit He Deserved

Former Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause passed away yesterday. Krause, who presided over player acquisitions during the Bulls championship run in the 1990s, assembled the coaches and players that aided superstar Michael Jordan in delivering six championships to Chicago in eight years. Yet, despite all that success, Krause was often seen as more of a negative than a positive.

Nicknamed "Sleuth" for his secretive ways, Krause delighted in discovering talent. If there was a rumor of a great basketball player somewhere, Krause would be on it in an instant. Unfortunately, in an era of smooth talkers and beautiful people, Krause didn't fit in. He had a reputation of being gruff with people, and his frumpy appearance was mocked most notably by Michael Jordan, who, among others, mocked Krause by calling him "Crumbs," in reference to one or more occasions when Krause would have donut crumbs on his suit or shirt.

I would be remiss if I did not admit to mocking Krause for his most infamous quote: "Players and coaches alone don't win championships, organizations win championships." Unfortunately, the word "alone" was often left out of the quote, making it seem much worse. Focusing attention away from players and on staff and management seemed foolish. In retrospect, Krause might have not been as far off as originally thought. If only he had found a way to merge the importance of both players and sound coaching and management.

Having watched and cheered for the Chicago Bulls since their very beginning, the six championships were pretty heady stuff for me. Watching games in the old Chicago Stadium was fantastic, and the United Center proved to be another great venue. And ... living in Illinois, I was able to watch virtually any Bulls game on television during the great run.

The players from that era will always be special to Chicago sports fans. The coaches were legendary. Today's passing of Jerry Krause brought back many outstanding memories across Chicagoland. And finally, for what really seems to be the first time, Jerry Krause is getting his due for being the best executive in Chicago sports history.

Monday, March 06, 2017

A Gut-Wrenching Day: Saying Goodbye

Sunday, March 5 was one of those days that you know is coming, you dread, but also know that, as is mentioned in the Semisonic song Closing Time: "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." My son, Rick, had accepted a job as a software engineer in Seattle and moved away -- almost 2,000 miles.

My wife and I had been pretty fortunate in that our two oldest children, while attending college and beginning their adult years, lived in apartments right in town. Although they lived their own lives and we saw them from time to time, it was always nice knowing that they could always come over for dinner or special family events, or even use our washer and dryer, pretty much whenever. The only time outside this new beginning when they weren't around was when my oldest daughter moved to Texas for two months after high school six years ago. I was devastated at the time and wrote a really raw post about having your child move away. Those feelings returned on Sunday.
How do they grow up so fast? It seems like just a short time ago Rick was this little kid. He had many challenges as a child and was lucky to have a mother who was his biggest advocate, supporter and source of comfort. This was especially needed when, at 15, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. We took him to the Mayo Clinic, where delicate surgery was performed. This is one of the "good" pictures I can post:
If any of you have kids, you can imagine what a terrible time this was. He had temporary paralysis on half his face, yet weathered it all with amazing courage. However, the threat of cancer returning caused him problems with anxiety in college that he still battles today.

Rick always had this dream of becoming a computer programmer. When he was young he ordered computer parts and put together his own computer. I would see my wife going to the library and bring home computer programming books for him when he was in fifth and sixth grades, He was a natural.

He couldn't wait to be off on his own and moved out 3 1/2 years ago. We always knew he would surface when he wanted free laundry use or when a grocery shopping trip was needed. He is a foodie and always had items on his shopping list that were totally unfamiliar to me. He will love living downtown in a major American city.

He moved back in with us while he was interviewing for jobs in the Silicon Valley and Seattle. His moving back was what actually made his move on Sunday more difficult. It was kind of nice to have another of our children living back with us. However, today was a particularly difficult day for my wife, who had just lost her mother last month. Letting go has been the depressing theme of our lives the past year.

After many tears today, we attempted to get on with our lives, although we were certainly feeling more than a bit empty. I finally got around to writing this post late at night after everything was quiet and dark. I knew Rick's flight would be getting in, and I texted him to make sure things went okay. I got the following response:

"Yeah, I'm just exhausted and still have to take a long ride to my place and check in. Please stay up so I can make sure I can check in. I should be able to pay my rent on my credit card because my credit limit is high enough, but I'd like to make sure I have some type of backup plan."

Okay -- long-distance parenting. It is still nice to be needed.

Thanks for reading!