Jerry Krause
Personal information
Born(1939-04-06)April 6, 1939
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedMarch 21, 2017(2017-03-21) (aged 77)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Career highlights and awards
As executive:
Basketball Hall of Fame

Jerome Richard Krause (April 6, 1939 – March 21, 2017) was an American sports scout and executive who was the general manager of the Chicago Bulls in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1985 to 2003.[1]

His tenure with the Bulls included their six NBA championships between 1991 and 1998, led by superstar player Michael Jordan. Krause received the NBA Executive of the Year Award in 1988 and 1996. He was posthumously inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. His career in sports included positions as a scout or general manager for the Baltimore Bullets, Chicago White Sox, and the Chicago Bulls.

Early career

Krause was born in 1939 to a Jewish family and grew up in Chicago. He played high school baseball as a catcher at Taft High School in Chicago and attended Bradley University.

After college, he went to work as a scout with the Baltimore Bullets. Early on, Krause gained a reputation of being able to spot talent. He is credited by some for discovering future Hall-of-Famer Earl Monroe.[2]

While with the Bullets, Krause urged the team to pick North Dakota forward 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. While Jackson was coaching the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Association, Krause once called him to ask for an analysis of the league's players, which Jackson provided in detail.[3]

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.

Krause also worked as a baseball scout. He worked in the 1970s for the Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and Chicago White Sox. While working for the Mariners, Krause continued to scout part-time for the Lakers.[4] As a White Sox scout, he played a role in the signing of Ozzie Guillén and Kenny Williams, who would lead the White Sox to a World Series championship in 2005 as manager and general manager, respectively.[5] He scouted for the White Sox until 1984.

Chicago Bulls GM

Krause replaced Rod Thorn as Chicago Bulls General Manager ahead of the 1985–86 NBA season.

Coaching staff

Krause's first hire with the Bulls was longtime personal friend Tex Winter. Krause hired Winter as an assistant bench coach. Krause urged Winter to teach all of the Bulls players, especially Michael Jordan, the Triangle Offense. Winter had learned the triangle offense as a college player at USC under then head coach Sam Barry, and later used it to successfully guide Kansas State to a number one ranking. Krause fired then-head coach Doug Collins and replaced him with assistant coach Phil Jackson because Collins would not let Winter do as Krause had instructed.

Building the 1991–93 roster

At the time Krause became the Bulls' general manager, Michael Jordan and John Paxson — two of the five players who would become key parts of the team that would win three consecutive championships from 1991 to 1993--were already on the team. Krause began building the foundation for future success by turning over the Bulls roster and building up a collection of draft picks. In the 1987 NBA draft, Krause chose power forward Horace Grant. He also traded draft pick Olden Polynice, a center, for Seattle's first-round draft pick, small forward and future Bulls star Scottie Pippen. Grant and Pippen were, along with Jordan, cornerstones of the Bulls' 1991–1993 championship teams.[6]

In 1988, Krause traded power forward Charles Oakley to the New York Knicks for center Bill Cartwright. Oakley was Jordan's best friend on the team,[7] and Jordan despised the trade. He and Oakley learned of the trade while they were on their way to Las Vegas to see a Mike Tyson fight.[6] 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.[7] Jordan later acknowledged that Krause had made the correct move in trading Oakley for Cartwright.[8]

By 1988, the Bulls had assembled their starting five players (guards Jordan and Paxson, forwards Pippen and Grant, and center Cartwright) for the team that would reach five consecutive Eastern Conference finals from 1989–93 and win three consecutive NBA championships from 1991–93. Krause was named NBA Executive of the Year in 1988. In 1989 and 1990, Krause added depth to the roster. The Bulls picked Stacey King and B. J. Armstrong in the 1989 NBA draft and later signed undrafted big man Scott Williams.

Building the 1996–98 roster

The first retirement of Jordan, following the 1993 NBA season, brought massive change to the Chicago Bulls roster. The 1993–94 Bulls were comprised entirely of Krause's acquisitions, including several minimum salary players.[9] Just before Jordan announced his retirement, Krause persuaded 1990 draft pick Toni Kukoč to buy himself out of his European contract and join the Bulls.[10] Despite losing Jordan, the Bulls won 55 games during the season, just two less than the season before. In the playoffs, the Bulls lost to the heavily favored New York Knicks to seven games in the second round.[9]

During the 1993–94 NBA season, Stacey King was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for 7'2" center Luc Longley.[11] Longley's emergence for the Bulls during the 1994–95 season made Will Perdue expendable.[12] Just before the start of the 1995–96 season, Perdue was traded to the San Antonio Spurs for Dennis Rodman.[13]

After Jordan returned to the NBA, the Bulls won a then-NBA record 72 games in the 1995-1996 season,[14] and Krause was named Executive of the Year for the second time.[15] The next year, they achieved a then second best-ever NBA season with 69 wins and repeated as champions.[16]

1997–98 season

See also: The Last Dance (miniseries)

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 (whom Krause despised) 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.[17]

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."[18] Krause was widely quoted as saying, "Players and coaches don't win championships; organizations win championships." The statement particularly offended Michael Jordan. However, Krause said that his original phrasing was "Players and coaches alone don't win championships; organizations win championships."[19]

Although most of the narrative suggested that Jackson was forced out as head coach, Jackson had actually declined a long-term offer from owner Jerry Reinsdorf.[citation needed] After the Bulls' final title of the Jordan era in 1998, Reinsdorf offered Jackson the opportunity to come back the following year as head coach, but made it clear that the team would have to go into a rebuild. Jackson declined.[20] Longtime Krause friend and Bulls assistant coach Tex Winter, who was the architect of the triangle offense,[21] stayed with the Bulls for another full season; he left the organization in the summer of 1999, when Jackson was hired to coach the Lakers.[22]


After the 1998 title, deciding that the Bulls were aging and facing an uncertain future, Krause chose to unload the veterans and rebuild.[23] The draft brought prolific collegiate players such as Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Marcus Fizer, Jamal Crawford, and Jay Williams to the Bulls. After the Bulls finished 15–67 during the 2000–2001 season, Krause decided to trade away his best player (Brand) for high schooler Tyson Chandler, who was hyped as "the next Kevin Garnett". He also drafted another high schooler, Eddy Curry, who was hyped as a slightly smaller version of Shaquille O'Neal, with the fourth overall pick in the draft. Krause believed that 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, clearing playing time for Chandler and Curry. 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.

Later years and death

In 2003, Krause resigned from his post as general manager. He explained, "The rigors and stress of the job have caused me some minor physical problems in the past few years."[24] The Bulls fell to 23–59 in the next season, and Krause's dream of a talented young athletic team imploded; all of his acquisitions were traded or out of the league within three years.

Krause went back to his roots and worked briefly for the New York Yankees as a scout before joining the New York Mets in 2005.[25] In 2010, he rejoined the Chicago White Sox as a scout, a position he had held in the 1970s and 80s.[26] He was appointed by the Arizona Diamondbacks as a special assistant in its scouting department on April 1, 2011.[27]

On March 21, 2017, Krause died at the age of 77.[28] He had been struggling with health issues such as osteomyelitis.[29] He was inducted into the 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame class posthumously.

On January 12, 2024, in the Chicago Bulls home game against the Golden State Warriors, Krause's widow, Thelma, attended his Ring of Honor induction on his behalf for his contributions to the franchise's success.[30] During the ceremony, some fans loudly booed Krause, bringing Thelma to tears. The fans’ reaction received heavy criticism[31] from Warriors coach and former Bulls player Steve Kerr, Bulls announcer and former player Stacey King,[32][33] ESPN's Brian Windhorst, NBA on TNT Analyst Charles Barkley, and former NBA player Kendrick Perkins.[34]


  1. ^ Evensen, Bruce J. (November 25, 2021), "Krause, Jerry (6 Apr. 1939–21 Mar. 2017), basketball general manager and scout for basketball and baseball teams", American National Biography Online, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/anb/9780198606697.013.370015, ISBN 978-0-19-860669-7, retrieved January 25, 2022
  2. ^ Halberstam, David (1999). Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made. New York City: Random House. p. 196. ISBN 0-679-41562-9.
  3. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 198.
  4. ^ Carpenter, Les (March 22, 2017). "Long before his Michael Jordan days, Jerry Krause believed he had found the next Mickey Mantle". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  5. ^ Hayes, Dan (March 21, 2017). "Jerry Krause's impact on the 2005 White Sox". NBC Sports Chicago. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 200.
  7. ^ a b Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 246.
  8. ^ " - Photo Gallery - Most Toxic Feuds of the Past 15 Years". Archived from the original on February 29, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2006.
  9. ^ a b J.A. Adande (June 12, 1996). "Krause is the brains behind these Bulls". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  10. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 289.
  11. ^ "Chicago Bulls All-Time Transactions". Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  12. ^ Sam Quinn (April 27, 2020). "Dennis Rodman trade: How Michael Jordan's Bulls dealt their backup center for the NBA's best rebounder". CBS Sports. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  13. ^ Rick Gano (October 3, 1994). "Bulls acquire Rodman from Spurs". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  14. ^ Armour, Terry (April 22, 1996). "Chicago Bulls finish season with all-time best 72-10 record". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  15. ^ "Former Bulls GM Jerry Krause dies at age 77". NBC Sports. March 21, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  16. ^ Johnson, K.C. (June 16, 1997). "Bulls got there because they'd been there". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  17. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 311-15.
  18. ^ Halberstam, Playing for Keeps, p. 41. The "82" refers to the number of regular-season games each NBA team plays.
  19. ^ Aldridge, David (March 27, 2017). "Chicago Bulls' golden era a reflection of Jerry Krause's words, deeds". Retrieved April 19, 2020.
  20. ^ Jerry Reinsdorf offering Phil Jackson coaching contract for 1998-1999 season, [1], Accessed October 3, 2022.
  21. ^ "Jerry Krause dies". Archived from the original on January 2, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  22. ^ "Krause passes on MJ's induction on principle". September 12, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  23. ^ Silverstein, Jack M. (March 24, 2017). "The true story of Jerry Krause and the breakup of the Bulls". Blog a Bull. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  24. ^ Liz Robbins (April 8, 2003). "Bulls Builder Krause Resigns After 18 Years". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Fred Mitchell. "Krause prefers silent approach to scouting Archived October 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine". Chicago Tribune. May 4, 2005. Retrieved on September 10, 2009.
  26. ^ "The Chicago White Sox hire former Chicago Bulls GM Jerry Krause to oversee scouting system in Dominican Republic". April 5, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  27. ^ Gilbert, Steve "D-backs hire Krause as special assistant"[permanent dead link],, Friday, April 1, 2011
  28. ^ "Presented as 'Last Dance' villain, Jerry Krause brought more to Bulls' championships than (almost) anyone". Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  29. ^ "Jerry Krause, general manager of Chicago Bulls' 1990s juggernauts, dies at 77". Washington Post. March 22, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  30. ^ "Bulls fans boo Jerry Krause at Ring of Honor ceremony, leaving widow in tears". The Guardian. Associated Press. January 13, 2024. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  31. ^ Raul Barrigon (January 13, 2024). "NBA Twitter reacts to Bulls fans booing Jerry Krause in front of his widow: 'This is classless of all hell'". USA Today. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  32. ^ Jamal Collier (January 12, 2024). "Bulls celebrate inaugural Ring of Honor class; fans boo late Jerry Krause". ESPN. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  33. ^ Jace Evans (January 12, 2024). "Chicago Bulls fans boo late GM Jerry Krause during team's Ring of Honor celebration". USA Today. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  34. ^ "Perkins: Bulls fans booing Jerry Krause was 'embarrassing'". ESPN. January 12, 2024. Retrieved January 13, 2024.