Jerry Krause: What Happened to Chicago Bulls’ Former General Manager?

Getty Jerry Krause, the former Bulls GM featured in the Last Dance documentary

Jerry Krause took a beating in the first 18 minutes of the opening episode of the much-anticipated, Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls documentary, The Last Dance.

While Krause was a much-maligned figure throughout most of his time as the organization’s general manager from 1985-03, he also deserves a ton of credit for building around the GOAT.

Krause is often blamed for what most consider the pre-mature breakup of the team’s dynasty during the 1990s. Nothing that was shown during the first two episodes of The Last Dance will change anyone’s mind about that concept.

Who is Jerry Krause and what happened to him after he retired from his post as Bulls general manager?

Jerry Krause Passed Away in 2017

At the age of 77, Krause passed away after a battle with a variety of health issues in March of 2017. Krause was inducted into the Hall of Fame later that year.

He had previously boycotted the Hall of Fame in a show of support for former Bulls assistant coach, and author of the team’s famed triangle offense, Tex Winter. This boycott reportedly caused Krause to miss Jordan’s induction in 2009.

Krause’s History as an Executive

Krause was a native Chicagoan having attended Taft High School. He also attended Bradley University in Carbondale, Illinois. After he graduated from college, he worked as a scout for the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards).

He is largely credited with having discovered NBA Hall-of-Famer Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, and his scouting talent was arguably his greatest skill.

Krause left basketball for a time during the 1970s and started working as a scout in another sport that he was passionate about, baseball. He worked as a scout for the Chicago White Sox, which Jerry Reinsdorf, the Bulls’ owner also owns. As is mentioned in the documentary, Krause approached Reinsdorf about becoming the general manager of the Bulls and was ultimately hired in 1985, which was the year after Michael Jordan was drafted.

Former Bulls general manager Rod Thorn drafted Jordan third overall in the 1984 draft after the Houston Rockets selected Akeem Olajuwon (later changed to Hakeem), and the Portland Trail Blazers chose Sam Bowie.

It is believed Krause was always a bit sensitive about not receiving as much credit for the Bulls’ dynasty as Jordan because he didn’t draft him.

Krause’s Greatest GM Moves

  • Krause had been friends with Phil Jackson since the 1960s when he tried to convince the Bullets to draft him out of the 6’8″ forward out of Wyoming. The Bullets didn’t draft Jackson, but they remained in touch and ultimately worked together while Jackson was a head coach in the CBA. Krause hired Jackson as an assistant coach for the Bulls under Doug Collins, and ultimately promoted him to be the head coach in 1989. Jackson would go on to become one of the greatest head coaches in NBA history.
  • During the offseason before the 1988 season, Krause engineered a trade that sent the popular Charles Oakley to the New York Knicks for Bill Cartwright. Oakley was the team’s top rebounder, a fan favorite and a personal friend of Jordan’s, but there is almost no way the Bulls win their first three championships without Cartwright.
  • During the 1987 NBA Draft, Krause constructed a draft-day trade that positioned the Bulls to acquire future Hall-of-Famer Scottie Pippen in a deal with the Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder). That same draft, Krause also selected Horace Grant, another key member of the Bulls’ first three-peat. One thing fans must realize is that Jordan, as great as he was, never won a single playoff series without Pippen.
  • Krause was responsible for bringing Croatian superstar Toni Kukoc from Europe to the NBA, and to the Bulls. Kukoc was instrumental in the Bulls’ second three-peat, and his arrival ignited the European-to-NBA movement. In many ways, without players like Kukoc, Dino Radja, Vlade Divac, and Sarunas Marciulonis, there might not have been a Dirk Nowitzki or Luka Doncic.
  • Ahead of the 1995-96 season, Krause traded reserve center Will Perdue to the San Antonio Spurs for Dennis Rodman. At the time, it appeared Rodman was on his way out of the NBA after a tumultuous stint with the Spurs. However, his arrival augmented an already strong core with Jordan and Pippen and helped to fuel arguably the greatest team in NBA history.

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