Enough Is Enough
Jerry Krause and the lowly Chicago Bulls.
December 30, 2001
Never a basketball fan, I could not help but follow the Bulls during the Michael Jordan era. In a town desperately needing someone, anyone to win, the Bulls gave Chicago a much needed sports identity. At first we thought it was a fluke, like all the other Chicago teams. The words “Chicago” and “dynasty” hadn’t been uttered in the same sentence for decades. Suddenly, we had an unstoppable force, and winning, at least in the basketball courts, was a given. Sure, all the other Chicago teams made a bigger stink than Gary, Indiana, but at least we had the Bulls.
It would have been sad, but fitting to see that team slowly fade over the next few years, age and time finally catching up with his Airness and the rest of the supporting staff, but a greedy little troll, a glory hog of the worst sort, stole that from us.
Convinced that he was the true mastermind, Jerry Krause dismantled the Bulls quicker than you could say “Phil Jackson,” and tried to convince us that, “organizations win championships.” While rumors circulated about a second “retirement”, there Michael Jordan was, holding up six fingers to represent the six championships, playfully adding a seventh and then eighth finger. Little did we know that Jordan’s tease was just that; there would be no more Jordan, no more World Champion Bulls.
Since then, the Bulls have been, well, awful seems too kind of word. A team that once stood above all others now competes with the L.A. Clippers and Denver Nuggets in their annual Battle for the Basement. Fans and local media have rightly put the blame on new coach Tim Floyd, oblivious owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and the self-proclaimed basketball guru Jerry Krause.
After four years of working the least-coveted job in the NBA, Floyd has finally had enough and resigned. One wonders why he stuck it out so long. Perhaps he, like Reinsdorf, was convinced that Krause actually knew what he was doing. Or perhaps he wanted to prove his own worth, that he was the rightful heir to the Phil Jackson legacy. Whatever the reason, Floyd should have realized he was being given a red herring the moment Jordan said he wouldn’t play for any coach other than Phil Jackson.
Floyd may have even succeeded, had he not had Krause sabotaging his every move. After the mass exodus following the Jackson fallout, free agents were either afraid of the Bulls or unwilling to trust Krause. When Krause drafted his “cornerstone,” Elton Brand, it seemed like the Bulls might be starting to rebuild. But just as Brand was coming into his own, genius Jerry traded him to get the “twin toddlers,” two players fresh out of high school.
The Bulls will never become champions, never even be contenders, until Jerry Krause steps down. Krause’s reputation precedes him everywhere as any player with talent makes sure to steer clear of the Windy City. While he may have been the man to initially get the Bulls Jordan, Pippen, and other key players, Krause’s ego and mania have superceded his ability to evaluate talent or put together a winning team. Organizations do not win championships; great players win championships. And the job of any good GM is to keep good players in their organizations, not alienate them.
Unfortunately, neither Krause nor his boss, Jerry Reinsdorf understand that. Rather than keep his cash cow going, Reinsdorf seems content living off dwindling revenues, and watching his team’s fan base erode. Maybe someday, when Reinsdorf looks around an empty United Center, he will realize what all Bulls fans already know; enough is enough; it is time for Jerry Krause to go.
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