Dennis Rodman Talks Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Jerry Krause's RelationshipApril 20, 2020
ESPN premiered the first two parts of its documentary miniseries on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance, on Sunday night, and one thing that came across very clearly was that Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson did not like former general manager Jerry Krause one bit.
During an appearance on Monday's First Take, former Bulls forward Dennis Rodman addressed that side of the documentary:
"Jerry Krause? It's a difficult thing, Molly. I never got involved with the front office at all. When Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan asked me to come to Jerry Krause's house and asked me did I want to join the Chicago Bulls, I said I don't give a damn, pretty much. I think it was something in the sense where—I think we talked about this a long time ago—where I had to go apologize to Scottie, which whether it was right or wrong, but pretty much after all that happened, the team formed with me, Michael, Scottie and MJ.
"So I think that Jerry Krause, I was there those three years and, wow, it was something, Molly. It was something. I never heard anything like that, I never seen anything like that before. I never really got into the politics of it, but I never asked Michael or Scottie: 'What is the reason you guys are so bitter towards the management?' I never asked those guys that, but after a couple of years, I figured it out where it all came from. Because I guess it came from Scottie, and then I think it really hit the head right there with Phil Jackson when Jerry Krause said he didn't care if we won 82 games, you're not coming back, and I think that hurt Phil Jackson more than anything in the world, and I think that hurt Scottie, it hurt Michael.
"For me, I was just more there for the ride, pretty much. I wanted to win championships with these guys. I would go to war for these guys any time of the day. It was just sad the fact that we could have come back and won a fourth championship very easily."
The relationship between Krause and the players, in particular, was the talk of social media on Sunday night after the first two parts of The Last Dance aired:
That animosity wasn't a secret before Sunday night, but seeing the footage of Jordan verbally making fun of Krause's height around his teammates—or recollections of Pippen going scorched earth on Krause on the team bus—was illuminating.
The central conflict stemmed from Krause wanting to break up the team before it would go on to win its sixth title, telling Jackson he was done after the 1997-98 season. Pippen's contract—he was criminally underpaid during his Bulls years, though he chose long-term security earlier in his career over maximizing his potential earnings—also contributed to the divide.
Finally, Krause earned the ire of the players with his famous quote, "Players and coaches don't win championships. Organizations do."
It wasn't a sentiment Jordan forgot. At his Hall of Fame induction speech he referenced the quote, saying, "I didn't see organizations playing with the flu in Utah. I didn't see organizations playing with a bad ankle."
Krause, for his efforts, was also inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. He deserves credit for building the Bulls championship teams. But to the players and coaching staff at the time, he was also the villain who—perhaps prematurely—broke up the dynasty.