Jerry Krause has been painted as the villain of The Last Dance.
It’s an extension of how Michael Jordan — who greenlit the project through is production company — views the world. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. For everything Krause did right in building this team — finding Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, hiring Phil Jackson, and much more — his ego and need to get credit tore the team down when it still was capable of winning more rings (an unspeakable sin in NBA culture).
Metta World Peace — back then known as Ron Artest, now he goes by Metta Ford-Artest — piled on Krause a little more speaking to Sam Amick and Joe Varden of The Athletic on the latest “Tampering” podcast.
Here’s the money quote.
“For me, it’s like Jerry drafted me after Michael Jordan (had finished playing in Chicago), so for me, the Bulls were my favorite team. I played with them all the time on the video games, so as a 19-year-old kid, I’m like, ‘Wow,’ right? And then Jerry told me one day — I love Jerry — Jerry is like, ‘Ron, we’re gonna get (title) No. 7, and you’re gonna be here, and it’s gonna just destroy those other six titles. Jerry would always say that. ‘No. 7 is the most important one.’”
Krause passed away and is not here to defend himself, although K.C. Johnson was granted access to Krause’s unfinished and unpublished biography, and in there Krause explains his actions. However, right now Jordan’s world view dominates the conversation.
Maybe the question I get most from casual sports fans friends watching this is, “how did this break up even happen?” Only Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf can answer that. It was before the player empowerment era in the NBA, it was before the 24-hour sports news cycle and social media, so while there absolutely was discussion of it at the time, it wasn’t the level of intensity seen today. Also, maybe it is part who Reinsdorf is, how long did he stick with GarPax in Chicago?
As Steve Kerr said of Krause, he did a lot of things right but couldn’t get out of his own way. Believing he could quickly build a team to win the seventh title was the biggest conceit of all, and it closed a championship window prematurely.