Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Happy Anniversary Jerry Krause

Today, or yesterday rather, was the anniversary of the Bulls's 1991 NBA championship, a championship largely due to Jerry Krause's ability to gamble on an unaccomplished coach, Phil Jackson, and his eye for talent that helped Krause assemble a team behind Michael Jordan.

Krause joined the Bulls in 1985 shortly after the Bulls settled for drafting Michael Jordan. Krause's best move came early when in the 1987 draft he selected Central Arkansas' Scottie Pippen and Clemson's Horace Grant, two fowards who would win three championships for the Bulls. I like this in particular because Pippen and Grant could perhaps be two of the most underrated players ever as Pippen, a truly great foward, was constantly overshadowed by Jordan. Grant on the other hand is barily remembered despite his hard play in three championships. In 1988 Krause took a risk by trading Charles Oakley, Jordan's best friend on the team, for Bill Cartwright, a slightly older, less defensively skilled center. The move panned out and Cartright shut down Patrick Ewing to help the Bulls win three championships.

In 1993 the first post Jordanera began and Krause continued to find good talent, acquiring Toni Kukoc and Ron Harper. Kukoc was great a fan favorite that is possibly the best six man ever, and he won that award many times. Kukoc was so important because he forced GM's from all the teams to look at European talent, paving the way for the likes of Dirk Nowitzki. While Harper could not replace Jordan as a prolific scoring shooting guard, he did win three championships for the Bulls as a point guard. Those championships happened in 1995 when Jordan returned. Krause helped put together what some called the best team ever when he acquired Dennis Rodman. After the team won 72 games, Krause won his second Executive of the Year award, and rightfully so as Rodman was a hardnosed defensive player who's ridiculous rebounding skills made the Bulls a dominant force for three years. Rodman's hairstyles and public life also proved interesting (although not the kind you see now with jail and all, just Carmen Electra type stuff).

In 1998 Jordan and Phil were essentially forced out as Krause's ego proved too much and Krause dumped the championship veterans to draft Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Marcus Fizer, Jamal Crawford, Jay Williams. Krause follows this up with a huge gamble in the 2001 draft, trading Brand for high schoolers Tyson Chandler ("the next Garnett") and Eddie Curry ("the new Shaq"). Frankly, especially the first five, were really solid. Elton Brand is extremely good and so is Ron Artest (minus his mental problems). Eddie Curry has turned into a scoring machine that is unfortunately too similar to Shaq (cant make free throws, is too slow, and plays little defense) while Tyson Chandler had a break out year (after the Bulls finally gave up on him. The only thing I really don't like that Krause did was trade Brand who is one of the great fowards and thinking about how good the Bulls would be now, with Brand, sends shivers down my spine.

In 2003 Krause retired and would eventually be replaced by former player John Paxson. All in all, he should get some credit where credit is due - he was a big part of why the Bulls were really good.

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