Jerry Krause Rumors
When Jerry Reinsdorf became chairman of the Bulls in 1985, he knew Jerry Krause as a scout for the White Sox and not much else. That changed after Krause, who had worked in basketball before, called and requested a meeting. “He told me he wanted to be the general manager of the Bulls,” Reinsdorf recalled by phone Friday. “I had a vision of how basketball should be played. And the vision was the Knicks teams that won the championship in 1970 and 1973. I wanted a team that emphasized defense. I wanted a team that on offense had a system where players moved off the ball and the ball moved. The way he thought you built a winning team was exactly what I wanted to do.”
“Trading (Charles) Oakley for (Bill) Cartwright was a risky move. Michael was against it. Charles was his friend and protector. Michael eventually admitted to Jerry it was the right decision. And Jerry admitted to Michael that (drafting) Brad Sellers (in 1986) was the wrong decision. “We got John Paxson for $50,000. It was a tough decision whether to draft Horace (Grant) or Joe Wolf. He was going to go with Joe Wolf but the coaches were so vehement. Even though he had the authority, he decided to listen to the coaches and go with Horace. “And the amazing thing is the second three championships because the only constants were Michael and Scottie. He turned the team over. Going after (Toni) Kukoc was so important.”
What’s your reaction to Jerry Krause saying you took the Knicks job only for the money? Phil Jackson: “I heard about it but didn’t read the article. But I do know this: If a writer goes searching for something like that from somebody like Jerry, he knows what he’ll get. I’ve always tried to be positive about Jerry, and I really don’t know what his point was. I mean, there were many factors that were much more important to me than money. What appealed to me the most were things like coming back to New York, staying involved with the game, facing a different kind of challenge and working with people I greatly respect.”
Sam: I do have to defend the Bulls on this one as it has become sort of a smear campaign, that big lie thing that if you say a lie often enough people will believe it. The parting with Vinnie went badly and John Paxson did regret the events and apologized. As a result, he hasn’t had much interaction with Thibodeau. But the Bulls often have been more generous to their coaches than I would have been. Doug Collins and Jackson still remain close with Bulls management, Paxson and Collins still emailing almost weekly. Collins received championship jewelry from the team to thank him for his contributions even though he was fired two years before the first title. And despite Jerry Krause’s open courtship of Tim Floyd, Reinsdorf offered Jackson a multiyear deal at the league’s highest salary to begin a post-Jordan rebuilding. Jackson declined as he didn’t want to be involved in rebuilding. Tim Floyd quit and Reinsdorf paid him the full two years left on his contract. Scott Skiles told management he couldn’t coach the players anymore. They let him go, but they cancelled the offset in his contract so he could go to the Bucks and double dip with two salaries instead of the Bulls getting his Bucks salary. And though there was bitterness at Thibodeau’s discharge, no one in 20 years had hired Thibodeau to be head coach until the Bulls did. And then they gave him a generous contract extension and he’ll make $9 million the next two years. It doesn’t exactly suggest a pattern of coaching abuse.
But did Krause think it would be this tough? You know, 10-43 tough with the winning percentage actually expected to plunge over the final 29 games? “I’m not surprised at all,” Krause said by phone Wednesday night. “I knew Phil had a bad ballclub. If [James] Dolan offered him $2 million a year or even $5 million, he wouldn’t have taken it. But $12 million is overwhelming. Phil didn’t take the job because he thought he had a playoff club. He took the job for the money.”