Jerry Krause: We'll Always Remember Ye

The man who put the 6 Championship Bulls teams together,  passed away today.

1986: My family was lucky enough to see these teams develop, up front. 2 seats in row 21 and 2 seats in row 22. Each seat cost $16.50. By the time 1998, the last of the Bulls’ championships, the tickets were over $200 each.

We got to go to The Stadium. Yes, the old place which was historic, hot dog smells interned in the benches and seats, standing room only every night. No fancy scoreboard. No replays on a screen. Just the Stadium.

Thankfully we had extended family members to share the cost of seats the last several years. Prices like that were outside our budget.

But boy, we were lucky to see the development of Michael, Scottie, Paxson, Horace, Will Perdue, and our 3 point specialist: Craig Hodges. We always went to the Friday night games. A family that plays together, stays together.

And yes, we played. In between studying for my PhD at Loyola, working at an inpatient psychiatric hospital for teens, my husband’s 45 hr. work week, and the kids’: school, basketball, baseball, and soccer games.

Our TV in the den had a VCR tape recorder, and we recorded every game. I relished going back to watch the great plays, passes, setting picks, and the triangle offense. Believe it or not, I still have dozens of VCR tapes,. And some of the best I’ll watch to pick me up on a bad day.

Krause got the players, the scouts, the coaches, and built a dynasty. I can’t speak about other GMs, but this man knew what a team for Chicago should be like. A team to bring us some hardware, since our championship with the 1985 Bears.

Who can forget “The Shot” vs. the Cavaliers?   Who can forget how the Detroit Pistons walked off the court in 1991, with 7 seconds left in the game? The series that the Bulls whipped Detroit 4 – 0?   Who can forget Michael’s six 3-pointers v. the Blazers in the first half?    Or his “flu” game v. the Jazz?

Who can forget all the players whom Michael and Scottie denied, to raise their basketball championship banners? Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler (on Portland at the time), and others.

Krause got Michael back in 1996, after Jordan had taken nearly 2 years off after his father was murdered. He figured: let’s try this at least one more time.

And then in 1996 , Kraus added Steve Kerr, Bill Cunningham, Dennis Rodman, and Toni Kukoc – 6th man of the year, Randy Brown, and Ron Harper. This team had the best NBA record of 72-10 at the time. And when Scottie was asked by the media about their championship possibility, he stated one of the revered sayings in Bull’s lore: “72-10 don’t mean a thing, without the ring”.

Then this team brought us 3 celebrations. Grant Park was never the same after the parades and cheers.

I admit it here: there were so many games where my anxiety took over while watching at home. I walked out, when the Bulls were 18 points down v. the Blazers (and won). I threw my socks at the TV in disgust when blowing a lead. I knew the game was recorded, so I could watch it again if they won. And all my sons could do was chastise me.

Say what you will about the demise of this team after the 1998 season. Yes, there were all sorts of stories about why the team split up. And Kraus was in the middle of this.

But the man brought Chicago so much joy, cheering, basketball history, and a team. A team whose banners are still hanging in my sports den (along with 3 Blackhawks, a White Sox 2005, and a Bears’ 1985 banner).  And hanging at the United Center.

Jerry, I hardly knew ye.

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