The popular Last Dance docuseries gave NBA fans behind the scenes access during the Chicago Bulls‘ chaotic 1997-98 season. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Phil Jackson each dealt with turmoil in the Bulls’ quest to win their third straight title, and the docuseries was exhilarating from start to finish.
General manager Jerry Krause was the root of most of the tension in 1997-98. He told Jackson the Bulls could go 82-0 and win the championship, and he would still hire a new coach for the 1998-99 season. That didn’t sit well with Jordan and Pippen, who despised Krause for most of their time in Chicago.
Krause did many disrespectful things toward Jackson, most of which were discussed in the Last Dance. The one act the docuseries didn’t touch on was what the GM did to the Zen Master during the 1997 draft.
Why did Michael Jordan hate Jerry Krause?
Jordan and Krause won six championships together. However, they didn’t have a good relationship, and it stemmed from what happened during the 1985-86 season.
In the third game of his second year in the NBA, Jordan went up for a lob against the Golden State Warriors and landed flat on his foot. He suffered a fractured bone in his left foot and was out indefinitely. Krause and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf wanted MJ to sit out the rest of the season, but the high-flyer had other ideas.
Jordan rehabbed his foot quickly and fought with Krause and Reinsdorf to let him play again. After weeks of arguing, the shooting guard made his return to the court against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 15, 1986. However, there was a catch. Krause and Reinsdorf only let Bulls head coach Stan Albeck play Jordan seven minutes each half, and that really irritated the reigning Rookie of the Year.
A frustrated Jordan went to Albeck’s office one day and told his coach to play him the most important minutes of the remaining games. The Bulls started to win and found themselves in the picture heading into a pivotal game versus the Indiana Pacers on April 3. Jordan played 28 minutes and put up 26 points, but he couldn’t go into the game on Chicago’s final possession because his time limit was up.
Krause told Albeck he would fire him on the spot if Jordan played more than his minutes limit. A furious MJ sat on the bench while John Paxson hit a game-winning shot versus the Pacers. While he was happy the Bulls won, Jordan never trusted Krause again after that game.
Jerry Krause grew jealous of Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson
Krause was excellent at his job. He built six championship-winning rosters. However, he couldn’t control the part of him that needed credit, and it caused him to become jealous of Jordan and Jackson.
During the Bulls’ dynasty, all the attention went to Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson, and Krause grew resentful. He was upset Jordan got all the credit for the team winning and Jackson making more money than him. That’s why he wanted to embark on a rebuild after the fifth title in 1996-97 so he could prove to everyone he was the mastermind.
However, Reinsdorf nixed that idea, and Jordan came back on a one-year deal. While Jackson was set to be the coach for one more season, he was excluded from all basketball discussions leading up to the 1997 draft.
When Ahmad Rashad told Jordan this on December 25, 1997, MJ took public shots at Krause and Reinsdorf.
MJ called out Krause and Reinsdorf
Jordan was displeased that Jackson wasn’t being treated with the respect he deserved. He told Rashad exactly how he felt during a Christmas interview in 1997.
“I think that’s an undue respect to pay an individual who has given his all and certainly his knowledge of helping us win five championships,” Jordan said. “It’s going out in a whole different manner than it should be.”
Despite all the drama behind the scenes, Jordan led the Bulls to their sixth title. Chicago defeated the Utah Jazz in the ’98 Finals, with MJ capturing his sixth Finals MVP.
Jackson went on to win five more championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s universally recognized as the best coach in NBA history.