How Jerry Krause Changed My Life: Part II
Welcome back. It’s good to know that I didn’t scare you away with Part I of my How I Became a Clippers Fan tale. Spending so much time on the subjects of Jerry Krause and the Los Angeles Clippers would frighten anyone’s bones. In case you missed it, feel free to catch up before I continue engaging you with my heroic story.
(I am convinced that with the only exception being something that possibly came out of the mouth of Gilbert Arenas, never before has the term “heroic” been used more liberally.)
So where were we? Ah yes, a young Bulls fan just forged a heritage bond with a member of his favorite team. Good times. So how did meeting Billy Pippen at a rural post office play a role in my NBA world getting turned upside down? Glad you asked.
Part II: I’ll Take Mine With Sour Krause
In 1993 bestselling author, Sam Smith, wrote a revolutionary biography on the chosen one himself: Michael Jordan. Wowie-zowie, what a book! Society had previously known two Jordan personas: (A) Jordan the basketball wiz-kid and (B) Jordan the marketing phenomenon. Smith’s best seller, The Jordan Rules gave insight to a whole other dimension of His Airness; Jordan the human being.
And what a nasty, cut-throat, unforgiving human being we were so jarringly introduced to. Let’s just say the Bugs Bunny befriending Space Jam version didn’t ring quite as true after reading Smith’s book.
But The Jordan Rules wasn’t a game-changer for me. Smith’s second book on No. 23, Second Coming: The Strange Odyssey of Michael Jordan, fulfilled that order. That’s because even though T.J.R. (Note: From this point on I will be referring to The Jordan Rules as T.J.R. and Second Coming: The Strange Odyssey of Michael Jordan as Odyssey Why? Because I’m a lazy sports writer and this is my story. Deal with it) was immensely popular, I read Odyssey first. And it completely changed my perspective of the Chicago Bulls.
Namely, GM Jerry Krause was one horn shy of the devil’s fat lard of a son. Or maybe he was just an ego-maniac who was jealous of Jordan and coach Phil Jackson. That might have been it.
Odyssey presented Krause in such a negative light, frankly it didn’t much matter if Jordan’s stories of Krause’s locker room antics were true or not. They were believable, so young fans like me believed them.
Krause didn’t even have a hand in drafting MJ and yet frequently took credit for it. The Greatest Ever recounted times Krause would trespass in the clubhouse after games looking for friendship, respect and adoration but coming off like the chess club geek yearning for acceptance from the jocks, but finding himself sling-shotted with atomic wedgies EVERY TIME instead. Jordan was the jock pulling Krause’s tighty-whities over his head and kicking his boss back outside, much to his chagrin.
It was like clockwork. Krause couldn’t penetrate the in-crowd (not a Kobe joke… as far as you know anyway) because Michael was the ringleader. And being an astute and vengeful alpha dog, Jordan got his kicks from tormenting his GM in the ways he knew would eat at Krause the most.
Knowing that, it’s probably a little much for a mature mind to completely blame Krause for the demise to come. After all, when one ego squares off against another, typically the outcome is lose-lose.
Still, it didn’t help matters that during Jordan’s post-baseball NBA encore, Krause began letting it slowly and publically slip that he yearned to start from scratch, rebuilding another Chicago dynasty without Jordan and Pippen. Translation: He couldn’t wait to tell his biggest star where not to let the door hit him. But cutting a mega-star’s time short is not an easy feat to accomplish. Krause may have been egocentric, but he wasn’t a moron, well, totally anyway. You don’t push Michael Jordan out of town. But as soon as he’s ready to leave…
It seems worth mentioning a second time that Krause really had very little to do with putting the Bulls dynasty together in the first place. He didn’t draft Jordan (that would have been Rod Thorn) and he got ridiculously lucky with Pippen. Raise your hand if you are over 40 and knew Pippen would even be an All-Star when he was drafted.
That’s funny. I don’t see any hands up.
Put your hand down Billy. You don’t count.
Pip was a stringy 6’7” guard/ forward out of the University of Central Arkansas. Scottie Pippen wasn’t a Razorback. He was a nobody. Sure he was athletic. But so is Trevor Ariza. You don’t see anyone banking multi-millions on his potential stardom.
(Whoops… I didn’t see you there Houston. My, this is awkward. Let’s just move on.)
(I mean, Ariza is one of my favorite supplementary, reserve players to trade for and play with on NBA 2K10, but still! Wait… I said I was moving on. My bad.)
Needless to say, in the 1987 draft, Horace Grant was supposed to be the blue ribbon cow. Not Pippen. Which makes his assenting to mega-incredi-stardom – you forget he cracked the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list – that much more impressive. And yes Pippen (No. 5 overall by the Sonics) was chosen well before Grant (No. 10, Bulls), but Pippen had a relatively unknown potential, as he was a collegiate late bloomer, blossoming into a draftee with a lot of upside in only his senior year. The Bulls knew what they were getting with Grant (rebounding and great defense) and were thrilled.
The fact that the Sonics were willing to trade Pippen to the Bulls for Olden Polynice (taken seventh overall in the same draft) - the very same who went on to average 7.8-points and 6.7-rebounds per game over his 15-year career – is telling. Well, either it’s telling, or the Sonics were run by labradors. It’s definitely one or the other.
So here’s what we knew at the time:
No. 1 – Krause knew this sensational Bulls squad wasn’t really his own and he couldn’t stand it. Watching Jordan bear hug the basketball at mid-court after winning his first Finals actually made Krause pee on himself in his luxury box. The carpet was stained a nasty tan-ish-yellow color (the guy clearly didn’t eat healthy or stay hydrated). It was so toxic and repulsive, the fiber strands mutated into 16 giant hairball beasts and had to be captured and stowed away in top secret holding cells, God knows where, by the CIA or FBI or someone. Needless to say, that carpet was replaced. Good stuff, that balsa wood.
No. 2 – Krause had gotten used to winning, and winning as frequently as Chicago did usually breeds the “I’m untouchable and can do no wrong, everything I plan on touching can and WILL turn into a natural resource so much more precious than gold you can’t even conceive how amazing it will be” complex.
No. 3 – Krause was kinda sorta a moron. It’s true. Look it up. It’s written down somewhere.
No. 4 – The size of Krause’s ego was rivaled only by his belly.
No. 5 – Dangerous waters were clearly in store for the Bulls, with Jordan nearing the end and Krause leading the ship.
So what happened?
Jordan retired and Krause low-balled/embarrassed guys who had the career merits of Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen.
Truth be told, Jackson was probably going to retire anyway, as he subscribed to the no-more-than-a-decade coaching rule. You can’t blame him for it either. A guy needs new challenges and besides, eventually players do tune out a voice once it becomes monotonous to them. But on the other hand, when a coach wins six titles in eight years, you tend to keep listening. You can’t definitively tell me that should owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Krause have thrown something silly, like a three-year/$24-million offer on the table at the Zen Master, that he wouldn’t have had severe second thoughts about his moving on philosophy. And don’t you do that for a guy that just helped you win six championships?
Well they didn’t.
And Krause was all too ready to kick Pippen to the curb as well. Remember, he had already previously agreed to deal his Robin to the Seattle Super Sonics (yes, at one point in time Seattle had a basketball team) for Shawn Kemp’s 3,000 out-of-wedlock kids. Or was it just Kemp? I forget.
Once MJ was finally out of the picture, Krause felt the freedom to offer Pipper basically nothing, before agreeing to a sign-and-trade with the Rockets. Krause’s prize in the deal? Roy Rogers. Surprisingly enough, not the Singing Cowboy or the soft drink.
(Though either one would have been believable.)
To make matters worse, with Jordan retired, Jackson on sabbatical and Pippen in Houston, the odds were better that Dennis Rodman’ flings, Madonna and Carmen Electra would suit up for the Bulls, than The Worm himself. Though come to think of it, would the Bulls have wanted Rodman without Jordan/ Pippen/ Jackson around to keep his crazy in check? What would he have been capable of? We all knew it was his goal to play naked. I’m wondering if he actually would have tried. Or maybe dry-humped a cheerleader or a ref. Possibly even while naked. Maybe that one was for the best.
So there you have it. With one swift kick to the groin, Chicago fans found themselves without their coach and three most important players. Ouch.
The Bulls were destined for a crash landing. Why? Because Krause was a fat, lazy doofus. Just thinking about it makes me want to hit myself in the face with my laptop.
Jerry Krause had just completely dismantled one of the greatest dynasties of all-time and he didn’t even care. In fact, he was proud of himself. What a smug little egotist.
Remember, the guy made these decisions based on his insane idea that he was a basketball genius and would rebuild his basketball empire in no time. Only it didn’t happen because clearly, Jerry Krause was no genius. There is a reason he has nothing to do with basketball related decisions for any NBA team these days.
I’d rather have Mike Dunleavy running my team than Krause. But it’s a good thing I don’t.
HEY! WAIT A MINUTE…