Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan didn’t have a good relationship with the late Jerry Krause. Although the two men won six championships together, they rarely saw eye to eye, and Jordan didn’t trust Krause whatsoever.
There were many reasons why Jordan despised Krause. The mistrust started during MJ’s second season after he broke his left foot. The UNC product fought with Krause and Jerry Reinsdorf to let him play after he rehabbed his foot, but the two men wanted him to sit out the rest of the season, which didn’t sit well with Jordan.
The Bulls and Jordan eventually reached a compromise. The All-Star was allowed to play seven minutes a half, and head coach Stan Albeck would be fired if he played His Airness more than one second.
On April 3, 1986, against the Indiana Pacers, Jordan’s time limit came up with the Bulls down one on their final possession. Albeck couldn’t put his star guard back in since Krause was in attendance and would fire him on the spot. So, the Illinois native got back at his GM after the game.
Jerry Krause got locked out of the locker room
In Episode 2 of ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries, John Paxson revealed that Albeck locked Krause out of the Bulls’ locker room after the Pacers game. Chicago won by one point to improve to 27-50 on the season, and Jordan and Albeck weren’t going to let Krause celebrate with them in the locker room since he put together Superman’s time limit.
“We went into the locker room,” Paxson said. “Stan locked that door, and Jerry Krause came wanting to get in at the end of the game, and Stan wouldn’t let him in. It wasn’t a good situation.”
Jordan played the final 15 games of the 1985-86 season. He averaged 22.3 points and helped the Bulls reach the playoffs. However, his relationship with Krause was deeply soured after the time limit prevented the superstar from going into the Pacers game.
Michael Jordan believed Jerry Krause violated most fundamental aspect of sports
Author Mark Vancil, who had a close bond with Jordan, explained perfectly in The Last Dance why Black Jesus never trusted Krause again after not being allowed to play against the Pacers on the final possession. According to Vancil, Jordan believed Krause violated the most fundamental aspect of sports.
“The mistrust Michael had with management, specifically with Jerry Krause, was he believed that they violated the most fundamental aspect of sport, I would argue the most fundamental aspect of the way Michael conducted his life,” Vancil said. “You do it at the highest level, and you do it to win all the time. From that moment on, Michael’s relationship with the ownership and management was deeply soured. That never went away.”
Jordan tried to get Krause fired several times after the 1985-86 season. However, Reinsdorf never fired his pal since he believed Krause was a good architect.
That didn’t stop Jordan from teasing the Hall of Famer, though.
Michael Jordan made fun of his GM a lot
Krause was short and fat, so Jordan made fun of him for that quite a bit. After the Bulls won their second title in 1992, Krause asked Jordan for a celebratory cigar. The MVP laughed and said, “You can’t smoke it. It’ll stunt your growth.”
Jordan also told Krause, “Jerry, you wanna do some layups with us? They gotta lower the rim” before the Bulls got their championship rings in 1997 from David Stern. The five-time MVP did everything in his power to make Krause 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 to Chicago. MJ and Pip wanted to make their GM look bad on a global stage.
Jordan also made it a point to destroy Dan Majerle in the 1993 Finals. Krause loved Majerle, and that was enough for Air Jordan to demolish the small forward. Jordan averaged 41.0 points in the ’93 Finals and led the Bulls to their third straight title.
Krause died in 2017. He’s one of the best GMs in NBA history and deserves a lot of credit for building the Bulls’ dynasty. However, he did too many questionable things around Jordan, which is why the six-time Finals MVP never respected him.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference