By Daniel I. Dorfman–
In this era of the blogosphere and its rapid fire responses, there is supposed to be a surefire answer on everything, especially sports. We judge people immediately and it is always up or down, yes or no, one way or the other. The fact is, it doesn’t always work that way. Some legacies are mixed and there are shades of gray. That is the case with Jerry Krause.
Krause is leaving the White Sox now, less than a year after he returned to the team, to take a position with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The man who suggested the Sox trade for Ozzie Guillen will now try to find players for the Diamondbacks.
Krause leaves Chicago with little fanfare. Perhaps he deserved more respect given his imprint on seven of Chicago’s world championships. Instead, few tears will be shed as fans go back and forth about his accomplishments.
In a long history of scouting, Krause discovered some stellar talent, as indicated by a Scout of the Year accolade he received earlier this year. Before his time in Chicago, Krause liked what he saw with Earl “The Pearl” Monroe who went on to the Hall of Fame. After he became the general manager of the Bulls, Krause came away with Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant after the 1987 draft and one year later, he traded for Bill Cartwright. He will never escape the fact Michael Jordan was waiting for him when he took over the Bulls in 1985, but the titles do speak for themselves. Moreover, to completely rebuild the team from one three peat to the next was impressive in its own right.
Like any good executive, Krause was never afraid to be part unpopular decisions. In 1989, he fired Doug Collins after the Bulls had reached the Eastern Conference Finals. Phil Jackson turned out OK as his replacement. When he was a White Sox scout, he lobbied for Guillen. The Sox gave up LaMarr Hoyt one year away from his Cy Young Award. Guillen won Rookie of the Year in 1985 and Hoyt’s personal issues led to a short-circuited career. He also resisted Jordan who always wanted to trade for someone with ties to North Carolina in the 1980s. In retrospect if Krause had done that. It is hard to see the six championship trophies in the Berto Center being there now.
However, his detractors also note he gave us Brad Sellers, Jeff Sanders and Marcus Fizer, just to name a few swings and misses. All general managers are going to make mistakes, but Krause’s defiance in ever admitting even the slightest misevaluation made his goofs loom larger.
For all the effort he made putting together the Bulls team of the 1990s, he always seemed so overeager to pull the plug on the dynasty. The enmity with Jackson and many of the players led to the summers of waiting to decide if he and owner Jerry Reinsdorf would bring the team back. There was needless drama that took an edge off the second championship run.
Finally in 1999, when he did have the chance to completely rebuild the team with the coaches he wanted, it led to some awful basketball. He resigned in 2003 and by 2006, all the players he drafted had left the United Center stage right.
Krause fought an uphill battle in Chicago once Jackson and Jordan made it public how much they didn’t like him. That he had all the charm of a wind chill factor of 30 degrees below zero didn’t help matters in his testy relations with the media.
Still there was sadness when the 1991 Bulls had their 20th anniversary in March and Krause was nowhere to be found. Perhaps he was legitimately busy with other responsibilities, but one gets the sense that if he didn’t think he would he would get a hostile reception from the ’91 team or the United Center crowd, Krause would have made an appearance that night.
So if he has left Chicago for good, Jerry Krause can leave with his held high about his accomplishments. At the same time, he should take a look at himself that no one else is all that unhappy that he is departing.
Do you agree with Daniel? Post your comments below.
Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.