In an excerpt of an unpublished memoir, former Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause delved into his relationship with Michael Jordan, saying they were good for each other's careers despite their off-court issues.
Krause's family provided the excerpt to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:
"Personally, despite our problems off the court, he was great to deal with on the court, where it counts. He wanted to win as much as I did, and we both were driven by winning again and again, looking for any edge to keep it going. Despite his quote about "my supporting cast" early in his career, he knew deep down that no individual was good enough to win in this game without being on a team that could win.
" ... Were we good for one another? I think we turned out to be a great match. We were both stubborn, strong-willed competitors, proud of our ability and wanting to carve out our own niche in the game's hierarchy."
Krause died in 2017 before the book was finished. The former general manager's contentious relationship with Jordan has been an ongoing subplot of The Last Dance, with the film showing MJ insulting Krause on several occasions and taking his frustrations out on teammates—most notably Toni Kukoc—who he thought of as "Krause's guys."
"I knew that Jerry Krause loved Dan Majerle, and just because Krause liked him was enough for me. You think he's a great defensive player, OK fine, I'm going to show he that he's not," Michael Jordan said on Sunday's episode of The Last Dance.
Krause was also instrumental in the team breaking up after the 1997-98 season, infamously telling Phil Jackson he could win all 82 games and still wouldn't return as coach. He later traded away every major contributor from the championship run for a failed rebuilding effort.
"Do I regret that I had a not great relationship with him? You know what? We won a lot of [expletive] games," Krause told Johnson in 2016. "Right or wrong, when I took that job I thought the worst thing I could do is kiss that guy's [rear]."
In his memoir, Krause denied Jordan's recalling of a 1985 conversation regarding how to handle his foot injury. The subject was touched on in The Last Dance, with Jordan wanting to play through a broken foot and Krause being among the contingent denying him.
Their conversation regarding the injury could be viewed as the initial cause of the fissure between the two:
"Now comes the disputed statement. I remember saying, 'Michael, you are a player, not a medical doctor. I have to do what's right for the team and as a result I'm not going to let you play.' Michael has told people who were not at the meeting that I told him he was an employee of the franchise and as a result would do what the franchise told him to do or else. He says he knew that moment that loyalty in the NBA between teams and players was non-existent and it changed his outlook on the game and on me.
"Now do you think I'm dumb enough, in front of the owner and within the ears of prominent medical people from all over the nation, to tell a young star that he was an 'employee?' I don't think so."
Jordan eventually got his way to an extent, playing late in the season on a minutes limit as he took the Bulls to the playoffs for the first time. His relationship with Krause only deteriorated over the next decade-and-a-half.