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.


Blogger Rob said...

If memory serves (and from 2000 miles away), Krause was always at odds with Phil Jackson, right? All the more impressive what they accomplished together if they were always fighting.

But somebody had to make the obviously brilliant decision to hire Jackson, and I assume that was Krause?

Picking Michael Jordan was a no-brainer. Krause's greatest trick was convincing Portland to pass on MJ. Cool move.

Greatest personnel decision (and biggest surprise) may have been Scottie Pippen. No one expected him to be the player he became, and obviously a huge factor in the Bulls' success.

1:34 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

The only player Krause was not responsible for was Jordan. Jordan was drafted before Krause was general manager. The pick was a no-brainer ... except to Portland.

Krause made the decisions to replace Doug Collins with Phil Jackson and to acquire Scott Pippin- absolute genius moves. Many of his personnel moves were outstanding. Of course the Bulls won because of Jordan and Pippin, but Krause excelled in getting them the surrounding pieces two different times for six championships. He should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago.

Jackson and Jordan continually made fun of Krause, who seemed to battle with many. It was a strange working relationship that had success until things fell completely apart. I went to the Grant Park celebration after the final championship-- the "Last Dance." It was sad knowing it was all over with Jackson leaving and MJ not returning.

7:10 AM  

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