Jerry Krause Said Scouting Scottie Pippen Was 'Love at First Sight' in Memoir

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

Former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen speaks during a press conference before the start of the Bulls game against the Dallas Mavericks Monday, Dec. 5, 2005 in Chicago. Pippen's number will be retired during a ceremony at half-time of the Bulls game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Dec. 9, 2005 at the United Center in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
JEFF ROBERSON/Associated Press

The relationship between former Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause and NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen became a contentious one because of contractual issues Pippen had with the Bulls during his time with the team. 

But it didn't start that way. As Krause detailed in his unfinished and unpublished memoirs, shared by his family with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, the first time Krause scouted Pippen at the Portsmouth Invitational in Virginia ahead of the 1987 NBA draft was "love at first sight—pure scouting love."

Krause wrote: "The thought of this guy playing alongside Michael [Jordan] caused this scout's mind to work overtime. The quickest, longest-armed, most tremendous lateral quickness combination in the game ... we had to get this guy."

The Bulls had the Nos. 8 and 10 picks in the 1987 draft and ultimately traded No. 8, a 1988 second-round pick and the right to swap first-round picks in either 1988 or 1989 to the Seattle Supersonics for No. 5, selecting Pippen. 

It was a night that changed NBA history. Pippen went on to become a Hall of Famer and the perfect complementary piece to Jordan, providing playmaking, elite defense and secondary scoring. The Jordan-Pippen pairing went on to win six titles together, and the 1995-96 team that went 72-10—at the time an NBA record—and won the title makes a strong case for being the best team in NBA history.

The Supersonics ended up with Olden Polynice from that draft, who had a long NBA career but averaged just five points and 4.5 rebounds in parts of four seasons with the Sonics, largely coming off the bench. 

Suffice to say, the Bulls won that trade.

But it wasn't just Pippen the Bulls landed in that draft. At No. 10 they selected Horace Grant, a key starter for them in their first three titles during the Jordan years (he averaged 12.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in seven seasons with the team). 

Grant would eventually sign with the Orlando Magic ahead of the 1994-95 season, paving the way for Dennis Rodman to join the team after Jordan's hiatus from basketball. But Pippen remained through the title years, living up to Krause's "scouting love" for him and then some.