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Jerry Krause was a longtime professional basketball scout and general manager for, among other franchises, the Baltimore Bullets and, most notably, the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association. He is a two-time recipient of the NBA's Executive of the Year award.


Early career

Krause was born in 1939 and grew up in Chicago. He played high school baseball as a catcher at Taft High School in Chicago and received a scholarship to Bradley University where he played baseball until he suffered a shoulder injury.

After college he went to work as a scout with the Baltimore Bullets. Early on Krause gained a reputation of being able to eye talent. He is credited for discovering some future Hall of Famer Earl Monroe. [1]

While with the Bullets, he had urged the team to pick a North Dakota forward named Phil Jackson in the 1967 NBA Draft. The Bullets did not draft him, but Krause continued to keep in touch during Jackson's playing career and into his first years as a coach. Their relationship flourished during the 1970s and 1980s; notably, when Jackson was coaching the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Association, Krause once called him requesting an analysis of the league's players, which Jackson provided in great detail.[2]

After a few years with Baltimore, Krause worked as a scout with the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls in the 1970s before he left pro basketball to scout pro baseball instead. He was scouting for the Chicago White Sox when he received a call from new Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf to join the Bulls as their new General Manager and once again work in pro basketball.

The Chicago Bulls

Krause succeeded Rod Thorn as Chicago Bulls GM in 1985, and began to build a champion around Michael Jordan, who was considered one of the great up and coming players in the NBA. He is credited with surrounding Jordan with the role players that finally brought the Bulls an NBA championship.



Krause found two gems in the 1987 draft: Scottie Pippen, an ultra-athletic small forward from the small University of Central Arkansas; and Horace Grant, a tough power forward from Clemson. The two were, along with Jordan, cornerstones of the Bulls' 1991-1993 Championship teams.[3] They were also culled from relative hoops obscurity; this went back to Krause's strength for finding players who were not well-received or even known by mainstream scouts.

However, Krause also made some picks that didn't sit well with fans. In 1986, Krause planned on selecting a tall forward named Brad Sellers in the NBA Draft. Sellers, Krause reasoned, was too good a pick to pass up, as he handled the ball very well for a big man, and also had a solid outside jumper. Jordan, on the other hand, pushed management to take a two-way guard from Duke named Johnny Dawkins. It looked like Krause would take Dawkins even as late as the morning of the draft; the coaches and players had made it clear that they wanted him and not Sellers, and Krause didn't particularly have a problem with Dawkins' game. The Bulls' head coach at the time, Doug Collins, even told Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski the night before the draft that the team would pick Dawkins. However, Krause ignored everyone and picked Sellers anyway, and spent the summer trying to sell him to Jordan. Jordan went after Sellers mercilessly in practice and Sellers was subsequently out of the league in a matter of years. Dawkins himself had an average NBA career, playing for 9 seasons and averaging 11.1 points per game.

Sellers was not Krause's last draft pick to underperform; others included Stacey King, Mark Randall, Will Perdue and Marcus Fizer. King and Perdue would serve as backup players on the Bulls' 1991-1993 Championship teams, but both players would later be traded away. During the 1993-94 NBA season, King was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for 7'2" Australian-born center Luc Longley.[4] Longley's emergence for the Bulls during the 1994-95 season made Perdue expendable. Just before the start of the 1995-96 season, Perdue was traded to the San Antonio Spurs for Dennis Rodman.

The Oakley trade

Krause made another transaction in 1988 to which Jordan strongly objected. It was clear that the Bulls needed a center if they were to contend for a title, so Krause dealt Charles Oakley to New York for Bill Cartwright. Oakley, who happened to be Jordan's best friend on the team,[5] was extremely tough, particularly on the boards and on defense. When the Pistons came after Jordan with their physical players, Oakley was his bodyguard. Cartwright was a true center, unlike the power forward Oakley, but was much older. Although Cartwright did not have Oakley's reputation as a lockdown defender, he was very effective at preventing opposing centers from dominating games,[6] and was a more capable inside scorer. Jordan despised the trade, not only because of the players involved but also because of how they learned of it: via television, while he and Oakley were on their way to Las Vegas to see a Mike Tyson fight.[7] Cartwright turned out to be everything the Bulls needed, however, providing a presence in the middle for all three Bulls championships from 1991-1993. Perhaps most importantly, Cartwright proved to be the league's best center at defending Patrick Ewing, the New York Knicks' star who was the key player on the Bulls' most important early-1990s conference rival.[8] Jordan later admitted that he may have been wrong and Krause may have been right about the trade,[9] but it changed nothing about Jordan's overall distrust and hatred for Krause. These feelings came to the surface in many different ways, with one of the most unusual coming in the 1992 Olympics, when the Dream Team, including Jordan and Pippen, took on Croatia for the gold medal. The Croatia team featured Toni Kukoč, a young star whom Krause had discovered through European contacts and was courting to a degree that some of the Bulls found annoying.[10] Jordan biographer David Halberstam said that Jordan and Pippen "seemed to play against Kukoc as if they had a vendetta", and that "in the end, it was as if they had been playing not against Kukoc but against Krause."[11] Jordan would later be quoted as saying: "The trade of Oakley was good, and the best thing he did was to get Pippen and Grant. That's it. His claim to fame is that he drafted Earl Monroe for the Bullets. And I say to him, 'What pick was that?' He says, 'Two.' And I say, 'Hell! Earl Monroe was a real secret, huh? A real secret? If you hadn't taken him, he'd have gone third!'"[12]

Rebuilding after the first retirement of Jordan

The first retirement of Jordan, following the 1993 NBA season, brought massive change to the Chicago Bulls roster. Krause attempted to replace Jordan with defensive specialist Pete Myers and free agent Ron Harper, but neither proved capable of leading Chicago to a championship, although Harper would play an invaluable role in the second "three-peat". Just before Jordan announced his retirement, Krause was finally able to persuade Kukoč to buy himself out of his European contract and join the Bulls.[13] The 1993–94 Bulls made it to the conference semi-finals, where they lost to the New York Knicks in seven games. The Bulls had beaten the Knicks in the playoffs the three previous years.

When Jordan returned to the NBA at the end of the 1995 season, Krause once again went to work in assembling what has been labeled the best team in NBA history after offseason acquisition of Dennis Rodman from the Spurs. The Bulls won an NBA record 72 games and Krause was named Executive of the Year for the second time. The next year, they achieved a second best-ever NBA season with 69 wins and repeated as champions.

"The Last Dance"

Krause and head coach Phil Jackson had been friends for years, but their relationship was, in Jackson's opinion, shattered early in the 1990s after Chicago Tribune reporter Sam Smith published a book on the 1991 title team, The Jordan Rules. The book detailed the tension that already existed between Krause and the players, and ultimately drove a wedge between Krause and Jackson.[14] Regardless of the success Jackson had as head coach of the Bulls, the tension between Jackson and Krause grew in the succeeding years, and by the 1997–98 season, was especially illustrated by the following incidents:

  • During the summer of 1997, Krause's stepdaughter got married. All of the Bulls assistant coaches and their wives were invited to the wedding, as was Tim Floyd, then the head coach at Iowa State, whom Krause was openly courting as Jackson's successor (and who would eventually succeed Jackson). Jackson and his wife at the time, June, were not even told of the wedding, much less invited, only finding out about the event when the wife of Cartwright, who by that time had become a Bulls assistant, asked June what she would be wearing to the reception.[15]
  • After contentious negotiations between Jackson and the Bulls in that same period, Jackson was signed for the 1997-98 season only. Krause announced the signing in what Chicago media widely considered to be a mean-spirited manner, emphasizing that Jackson would not be rehired even if the Bulls won the 1997–98 title. That triggered an argument between Jackson and Krause in which Jackson essentially told Krause that he seemed to be rooting for the other side and not the Bulls. At that point, Krause told Jackson, "I don't care if it's 82-and-0 this year, you're fucking gone."[16]
  • Krause publicly portrayed Jackson as a two-faced character who had very little regard for his assistant coaches, a perception that certain Krause associates in the Bulls organization had sought to spread about Jackson. At the height of the hard feelings in the spring of 1998, one of Krause's scouts went to press row in Chicago's United Center to explain to a reporter the insidious nature of Jackson's ego (excerpt from the Phil Jackson biography Mindgames).

Amid the distractions, the Bulls won their sixth title in eight years.

After the Bulls' final title of the Jordan era in 1998, Jackson left the team vowing never to coach again but after he took a year off he decided to give it another chance with the Lakers. Longtime friend of Krause and Bulls assistant coach, Tex Winter, who was the architect of the triangle offense, [17] also soon left the Bulls to accept a job working with Jackson and the Lakers. Krause said that he has not spoken to Jackson since. Despite the obvious joined success of coach, player and general manager, Krause, Jackson and Jordan have never posed together in any photograph. [18]


Deciding that the Bulls were aging and facing an uncertain future, Krause chose to unload the veterans and rebuild. Few major players were added though (other than from drafts).

Younger talent

The draft brought prolific collegiate players such as Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Marcus Fizer, Jamal Crawford, and Jay Williams to the Bulls but it would be the 2001 draft that stood out. After finishing 15-67 during the 2000-2001 season, Krause decided to gamble and trade away his best player in Brand for high schooler Tyson Chandler who was hyped as "the next Kevin Garnett", and draft another high schooler in Eddy Curry who, similarly, was hyped as a slightly smaller version of Shaquille O'Neal, with the fourth overall pick in the draft.

Krause believed that the tandem of Chandler and Curry would develop into elite players and provide the foundation for another dynasty. A mid-season trade the following year brought scorer Jalen Rose to the Bulls in exchange for Brad Miller and Artest which cleared playing time for the two rookies. After drafting Jay Williams during the offseason, the Bulls had a roster with Rose, Crawford, Curry, Chandler, Williams, and Fizer that fulfilled Krause's dream of a talented young athletic team. The Bulls showed some improvement the following year.


However, in 2003, Krause retired as GM. The official explanation involved obesity related health problems. The Bulls fell to 23-59 in the next season, and Krause's dream of a talented young athletic team imploded with all of his draft picks and signings traded or out of the league within three years, and all remnants of Krause were gone from the Bulls in 2006 when Chandler was traded away. Curry and Chandler have had success in the league, but perhaps have not lived up to the lofty expectations that Krause had. Meanwhile, former players Brand, Miller and Artest became All-Stars for their new teams. Krause went back to his roots and worked briefly for the New York Yankees baseball team as a scout, before joining the New York Mets in 2005.[19] He now lives in suburban Chicago with his wife, Thelma, and appears occasionally on sports radio as an analyst.


  1. ^ Halberstam, David (1999). Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made. New York: Random House. p. 196. ISBN 0679415629.  
  2. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 198.
  3. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 200.
  4. ^ "Chicago Bulls All-Time Transactions". Retrieved 2009-08-28.  
  5. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 246.
  6. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 279-80.
  7. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 200.
  8. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 246.
  9. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 247.
  10. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 288-89.
  11. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 289.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 289.
  14. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 311-15.
  15. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 249.
  16. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 41. The "82" refers to the number of regular-season games each NBA team plays.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Fred Mitchell. "Krause prefers silent approach to scouting". Chicago Tribune. May 4, 2005. Retrieved on September 10, 2009.


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