It was well-documented in The Last Dance docuseries just how much Michael Jordan hated Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause. The six-time champion didn’t have a good relationship with the Bulls’ architect and never shied away from mocking him in public.
Krause, who died in 2017, was short and fat. Meanwhile, Jordan was tall, handsome, and the most famous athlete on the planet during the ’90s. As a result, Krause couldn’t control the part of him that needed credit and grew resentful of Jordan getting all the attention during the Bulls’ dynasty.
Jordan and Krause barely spoke during the 1997-98 season, but when they did, His Airness made it a point to pick on his GM for the cameras to see.
Michael Jordan made fun of Jerry Krause
Jordan openly ridiculed Krause for the Last Dance camera crew to see. The five-time MVP loved to make fun of Krause’s short stature, and the docuseries showed two of his jokes in Episode 1.
There was a scene where Jordan went up to Krause by the water cooler in a gym and said, “Those are the pills you take to keep you short. Or are those diet pills?” The second instance of Jordan poking fun at Krause came right before the Bulls got their fifth championship ring from commissioner David Stern at the United Center. In the tunnel, Krause walked past Jordan, and MJ once again teased him about his height.
“Jerry, you wanna do some layups with us?” Jordan asked. “They gotta lower the rim.”
During his legendary run with the Bulls, Jordan watched Krause do several things that irritated him. However, he stopped trusting the executive after what happened during his second season.
Michael Jordan’s relationship with Jerry Krause was deeply soured after what transpired on April 3, 1986
Jordan was put on a strict time limit in 1985-86 after he broke his foot in the season’s third game. Krause and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf wanted their superstar to sit out the season, but Jordan rehabbed his foot quickly and returned to the lineup on March 15.
Krause told Bulls head coach Stan Albeck not to disobey his time restriction for Jordan if he wanted to keep his job. That put the coach in a tough spot, especially during an April 3 game against the Indiana Pacers. Jordan had 26 points in 28 minutes, but he was taken out of the game on the Bulls’ final possession with the team down one because of Krause’s time restriction.
An angry Jordan sat on the bench and watched John Paxson hit a game-winning shot. While he was obviously happy that Chicago won, he was frustrated because Krause violated the most fundamental aspect of sports and how he conducted his life. The UNC product wanted to win every game and felt his GM wasn’t aligned with him.
After the Bulls beat the Pacers, Krause tried to get into the locker room, but Albeck locked the door. To no one’s surprise, Albeck was fired in the offseason and replaced by Doug Collins.
Jordan never forgot what Krause did on April 3, 1986, so much so that he made it a point to embarrass him every chance he got.
MJ did everything he could to make his GM look bad
During the 1992 Olympics, Jordan and Scottie Pippen attacked Toni Kukoc when Team USA faced Croatia because Krause drafted Kukoc and was enamored with bringing him over to Chicago despite having two of the best players in the world in Mike and Scottie. The Bulls stars wanted to make their GM look bad on a worldwide stage.
Another example of Jordan doing aggressive feats because of his hatred for Krause was when he went after Phoenix Suns swingman Dan Majerle in the 1993 NBA Finals. Krause loved Majerle, and that was enough for Air Jordan to destroy the Phoenix small forward. The Hall of Famer averaged 41.0 points in the ’93 Finals and led the Bulls to their third straight title.
The final straw for Jordan was when Krause said Phil Jackson wouldn’t return as head coach in 1998-99 even if the Bulls went 82-0 and won the championship in 1997-98. Chicago won the ’98 title in six games over the Utah Jazz, but the team was broken up in the offseason.
Maybe the two men wouldn’t have had such a sour relationship if Krause never put a time limit on Jordan after the shooting guard returned from his foot injury. It’s undoubtedly a fascinating narrative to think about.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.