Jerry Krause and Jerry Reinsdorf : The Off-Court Stars
With the ESPN release of “The Last Dance”, the ten-part documentary surrounding Michael Jordan‘s last season with the Chicago Bulls, several former players have been in the limelight. “The Last Dance” also touches on Jordan’s relationships with the stars off of the court. Although Jerry Krause is portrayed as somewhat of a villain in the show, Krause and owner Jerry Reinsdorf were big parts of the Bulls’ two three-peats during the 1990s.
The Off-Court Stars
It’s no secret that the talented stars that get most of the attention are the players in the NBA. On the Bulls, that was Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman to name a few. Often, the other playmakers are the team’s silent contributors. Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago Bulls and Jerry Krause, the general manager made big plays off the court to lead their team to six championships in eight years.
Reinsdorf is the consistent factor in the on and off-court plays for the last 30-plus years.
Reinsdorf started his career as a certified public assistant and then was a tax lawyer before making his wealth off of investments.
He entered the sporting world in 1981 when he acquired the Chicago White Sox and invested in the Chicago Bulls four years later.
During Reinsdorf’s tenure as owner of the White Sox and Bulls, both teams have won world championships. In 2005, the White Sox won the World Series. That marked their first championship since 1917 and the Bulls have six rings under Reinsdorf’s leadership.
Reinsdorf continues to be active and visible in the team’s happenings and received his enshrinement to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
“The Last Dance” gives the viewers an insider’s view of the dynamics between Jerry Krause and the rest of the organization. Krause mostly comes off as a villain in the documentary, but he is undeniably an integral part of the organization’s history.
Jerry Krause was born on Apr. 6, 1939 in Chicago. Krause always had an interest in sports, but with his short, stout stature he didn’t have any professional aspirations. Since he couldn’t play the sports he loved, he hung out with the baseball and basketball teams in college and became familiar with the inner workings of the teams.
His immense sports knowledge enabled him to have an excellent eye for talent and he started his professional career as a scout for the Baltimore Bullets. Krause also worked as a scout with the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers, before ending up with the Chicago Bulls.
Baseball was Krause’s true passion and he left the NBA to scout for the MLB. Krause worked for the Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and the Chicago White Sox.
During his scouting tenure the Athletics he was part of three World Series titles and he made monumental moves in the White Sox organization. He was responsible for bringing LaMarr Hoyt and Ozzie Guillen to the White Sox. Guillen also moved up the ranks in the MLB after his playing years and was the manager of the White Sox when they took the championship title in 2005.
The Chicago Bulls Years
Reinsdorf and Krause’s professional relationship started when Krause scouted for the White Sox organization. In the documentary, the viewers learn that Krause approached Reinsdorf when the general manager position came open with the Bulls, and Reinsdorf hired him. The first two episodes of “The Last Dance,” show the viewers some of the teasing and taunting Krause went through by players during the 1997-98 season. In the fourth episode of the documentary video footage, we also see Krause’s attempts to interact with the team, dancing with the team during travel periods.
Krause’s history with the Bulls organization dates back to 1976, when he had a two-month stint with the Bulls as a scout, before he returned to the organization as the general manager from 1985-2003.
As mentioned above, Loughery was the Bulls head coach when Reinsdorf bought the team, and he was the first of several coaches Krause worked with during his tenure. He then worked with Stan Albeck, letting him go unexpectedly to hire Doug Collins. Collins’ unexpected exit from the Bulls almost mirrored Albeck’s. The only difference was that Phil Jackson, who replaced Collins, was an assistant coach and Collins was a scout.
After letting go of Jackson, who had led his team to six NBA championships, Krause had Tim Floyd succeed Jackson from 1998-2001. Former player Bill Cartwright took over the head coaching position from 2001-03.
Krause resigned from the Chicago Bulls in 2003.
After the Bulls
Following his lengthy, controversial, and tumultuous career with the Chicago Bulls, Krause went back to baseball.
He left Chicago to scout for the New York Yankees and Mets before returning to Chicago in 2010 to once again work for the White Sox. In 2011, he became the Special Assistant in Scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Krause passed away on Mar 21, 2017 and was posthumously enshrined in the basketball Hall of Fame the same year.
The Legacy of Jerry Krause and Jerry Reinsdorf
There isn’t any doubt that professional basketball is all about the players. However, professional basketball is a business. The players can’t come together to compete without the executives orchestrating it. The business aspect of basketball is dictated by the team and league executives.
The Chicago Bulls dynasty wasn’t an exception, despite the incredible talent on the court. It takes everyone working together to completely form the team. Reinsdorf and Krause were the stars of the dynasty off of the court.