In the late 1990s, Artest said, Jerry Krause, the Bulls’ GM, told him over dinner that he knew the Bulls didn’t have what it took to win a championship.
In any given year, there are only a handful of major sports titles, and Michael Jordan’s six NBA titles are the most impressive of all. However, Jerry Krause, former head coach of the Chicago Bulls, wanted to get his hands on one of those titles, too. In a 1999 interview with Metta Sandiford, Krause said, “I wanted to win a seventh and be remembered next to Jordan as one of the all-time greats in the game. I wanted to be known as a great coach in my own right. But Jordan took it away from me.”
A few days back, after the San Antonio Spurs’ Game 7 loss to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, Chicago Bulls president Jerry Krause was asked by reporters what his goals were for the 2003-2004 season. His response? He wanted to win a seventh title.
Michael Jordan is generally regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, having won six championships with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Michael Jordan was able to attract a whole generation of basketball fans with his scoring and agility, and there is no question that he was able to entice a full generation of basketball fans.
Since Michael Jordan’s retirement, the Chicago Bulls haven’t won a title. However, during Metta World Peace’s brief stint with the Chicago Bulls, he claimed that GM Jerry Krause had championship ambitions and that he intended to “wipe away” Michael Jordan’s six championships by winning the Bulls’ seventh. Michael Jordan and Jerry Krause didn’t always get along, and there were times when Jordan would trash talk Krause in front of the whole squad. (0:50)
Metta Sandiford-Artest: Jerry Krause, RIP Jerry Krause, is someone I remember. “Ron, we’re going to get number seven and wipe out the other six,” he said, “but I didn’t want to wipe out the other six; I simply wanted to get number seven.”
Shannon Sharpe: So Jerry Krause felt he didn’t receive the credit he deserved because MJ and the other people had shaded him. He believed that if he shared a championship with someone other than Jordan, it would be more meaningful than those six.
Metta Sandiford-Artest: Certainly.
In the NBA, one thing is certain: without a superstar, there are no championships. The most important element in the equation is superstars. Jerry Krause was obviously less essential to the Bulls’ success than Michael Jordan. There’s little doubt that front-office decisions influence how far a team progresses, and we’ve seen numerous examples of superstars trapped on poor teams failing to advance far in the playoffs. Toni Kukoc, Jordan’s teammate, famously said that although Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time, Jerry Krause deserves recognition as well.
There is little doubt that the Chicago Bulls dynasty is one of the most successful in sports history, not just in basketball. Every dynasty, though, must come to an end. While many people believe Jerry Krause is to blame for the dynasty’s demise, others have given other reasons. Jerry Reinsdorf, the team’s owner, was accused by Charles Barkley for ending the dynasty because he refused to pay anybody, and Reinsdorf accusing Krause was “disingenuous.”
While Krause contributed to the dynasty, it is obvious that winning a seventh championship would not have erased Michael Jordan’s achievements. The fact that no one has ever won two three-peats as the leading superstar save Michael Jordan remains true today, and the guy is regarded as a legend in the NBA. No contemporary superstar has an undefeated record in the Finals.
The fact that many people still hold Michael in high regard demonstrates how influential his career has been. While a seventh championship might have shown that the Bulls could have won without Michael Jordan, it did not happen. Michael Jordan is the most significant person in Bulls history, and it seems likely that he will remain so for a long time.
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