Re­mem­ber­ing Jerry Krause, the ar­chi­tect of the Bulls’ dy­nasty.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY TIM BONTEMPS tim.bontemps@wash­

The dy­nas­tic 1990s Chicago Bulls, the team that set the stan­dard of ex­cel­lence in the NBA for all to fol­low, were full of larger-than-life char­ac­ters.

There was Michael Jor­dan, roundly hailed as the great­est the game has ever seen — with a per­son­al­ity wor­thy of the stage the player com­manded. Phil Jack­son, the Zen Mas­ter, with his quirky sen­si­bil­i­ties and his tri­an­gle of­fense who is now con­sid­ered as ar­guably the great­est coach the sport has ever seen. Scot­tie Pip­pen, an un­ri­valed de­fen­sive weapon on the perime­ter. For a stretch, so was Den­nis Rod­man, whose out­size per­son­al­ity off the court matched his re­lent­less de­fense and re­bound­ing on the floor.

All of those names, plus plenty of oth­ers — Steve Kerr, John Pax­son, Bill Cartwright, B.J. Arm­strong, Luc Lon­g­ley, Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper and more — stood out at one time or an­other as the Bulls won six cham­pi­onships on one of the great runs in NBA his­tory. All of those men, how­ever, didn’t ar­rive in Chicago by mis­take. They all went there be­cause of the vi­sion of one man: gen­eral man­ager Jerry Krause.

Krause died Tues­day at age 77, leav­ing be­hind 50 years of work as a tal­ent eval­u­a­tor in both base­ball and bas­ket­ball. It was a re­mark­able run of suc­cess, one that led to him draft­ing Earl Mon­roe, Jerry Sloan and Wes Unseld with the Bal­ti­more Bul­lets to mak­ing sev­eral other stops in both base­ball and bas­ket­ball as a scout.

But it was in 1985, when Krause took over from Rod Thorn as gen­eral man­ager of the Chicago Bulls, when his le­gacy be­gan to be built. That was ac­com­plished in the only way he ever thought the job should be done: by scout­ing, scout­ing some more, and some more after that.

“When you do some­thing all your life, you have a zest for it,” Krause said on a pod­cast with The Ver­ti­cal’s Adrian Wo­j­narowski ear­lier this year. “With me, scout­ing is a zest. Scout­ing is fun for me. I en­joy it. “It was some­thing I was born, I think, to do.” The re­sults speak for them­selves. Krause hired Jack­son — with whom he be­gan a re­la­tion­ship 20 years prior when Jack­son was play­ing at North Dakota — out of the Con­ti­nen­tal Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion as an as­sis­tant un­der Doug Collins. He snapped up Pip­pen and Ho­race Grant in the 1987 NBA draft, form­ing the first Chicago Big Three with Jor­dan that would lead the Bulls to their first trio of cham­pi­onships start­ing in 1991.

Krause swapped Charles Oak­ley for Cartwright, a move that en­raged Jor­dan, but wound up as the miss­ing piece. Later, as the Bulls geared up for a sec­ond three-peat when Jor­dan re­turned from a year-and-a-half base­ball so­journ, Krause found pieces like Kukoc, Harper, Lon­g­ley and Kerr — not to men­tion land­ing Rod­man in a trade with the San An­to­nio Spurs — sur­round­ing Jor­dan with the weapons to chase his­tory once again.

“The news of Jerry Krause’s death is a sad day for the Chicago Bulls and the en­tire NBA com­mu­nity,” Jack­son, now pres­i­dent of the New York Knicks, said in a state­ment Tues­day. “He was a man de­ter­mined to cre­ate a win­ning team in Chicago — his home­town. Jerry was known as ‘The Sleuth’ for his se­crecy, but it was no se­cret he built the dy­nasty in Chicago. We, who were part of his vi­sion in that run, re­mem­ber him to­day.”

That’s not to say Krause was easy to work with. His pen­chant for se­crecy, which Jack­son ref­er­enced in his state­ment, ran­kled some. He fa­mously had fall­ing outs with both Jor­dan, who gave him the nick­name “Crumbs” be­cause he was over­weight and didn’t dress for the part of be­ing a gen­eral man­ager, and then, over time, with Jack­son. He was an ad­mit­tedly stub­born per­son.

But he also had a re­mark­able eye for tal­ent, for go­ing out and find­ing play­ers in places oth­ers didn’t think to look. He found Pip­pen at Cen­tral Arkansas, Kukoc in Europe, Kerr on the waiver wire.

For all of Jor­dan’s im­mense tal­ent, it’s im­pos­si­ble to win in the NBA by your­self. If not for Krause and his vi­sion to bring all of th­ese dis­parate char­ac­ters to­gether, the Bulls dy­nasty could never have ex­isted.

That’s why it’s such an enor­mous shame, and a true dis­grace, that Krause still re­mains out­side of the Nai­smith Me­mo­rial Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame. He is up for in­duc­tion as a con­trib­u­tor, and should un­ques­tion­ably be elected, which should’ve hap­pened years ago. But Krause pub­licly voiced his dis­plea­sure over for­mer Bulls as­sis­tant and tri­an­gle ar­chi­tect Tex Win­ter be­ing passed over, and re­moved him­self from the in­duc­tion com­mit­tee in the early 2000s. He’s now been forced to wait longer to be en­shrined for­ever among the game’s greats.

Those great Bulls teams were led by even greater char­ac­ters, names and faces and per­son­al­i­ties that will echo through the ages. They all came to­gether be­cause of a man be­hind the scenes, one who was al­ways hap­pi­est when he was out scout­ing, look­ing for the next piece, the next tal­ent to add.

Jerry Krause was a scout at heart, one with an ex­cep­tional eye for tal­ent. The col­lec­tion of it he brought to­gether in Chicago changed the course of bas­ket­ball his­tory.


Jerry Krause, left, sur­rounded Michael Jor­dan with the right tal­ent to un­leash the Bulls’ dy­nasty.

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