Jerry Krause, former Bulls GM, dies

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Jerry Krause, former general manager of the Chicago Bulls, died Tuesday at 77, the team said. He had been battling a debilitating bone infection.

Krause was general manager during the Chicago Bulls' championship years when they won six NBA titles in eight years in the 1990s.

Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf released a statement saying, "The entire Bulls organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Jerry Krause. Jerry was one of the hardest working guys I have ever been around, and he was one of the best talent evaluators ever. Jerry played an integral role in our run of six championships in eight years. He truly was the architect of all our great teams in the '90s. I would not have been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame if it were not for Jerry. We will miss him tremendously, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his wife Thelma and the Krause family."

Former Bulls superstar Michael Jordan released a statement saying, "Jerry was a key figure in the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s and meant so much to the Bulls, the White Sox and the entire city of Chicago. My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Thelma, his family and friends."

Krause took over as Bulls GM in 1985. Though he didn't draft Michael Jordan, he did bring on board two other future hall of famers, plucking coach Phil Jackson out of obscurity from the CBA and drafting Scottie Pippen out of Central Arkansas.

Krause was also lauded for other moves, acquiring Dennis Rodman and drafting Toni Kukoc, building a team deep in talent.

A former Krause draft pick, Stacey King, called Krause one of the greatest GM's in NBA history.

But there were bumps in the road, with Krause blamed for the malaise of the post-Jordan Bulls and his gruff, often confrontation demeanor rubbed some players the wrong way.

"Pax told us that he always wanted to be beloved by the players and the general manager's job is not to be beloved by the players, so he tried to be a shrewd general manager but wanted still to be loved and he had to make shrewd moves," said Marc Silverman of ESPN Chicago's "Waddle & Silvy."

He had a contentious relationship with Jackson, who left after the Bulls' final championship in 1998 and replaced him with Tim Floyd, who failed to make the playoffs in three-and-a-half seasons with the Bulls.

In 2003, the Chicago native and two-time NBA Executive of the Year winner retired as Bulls GM.

On Tuesday, Bulls fans reflected on the team's success under Krause.

"I think it's a testament to his leadership ability and his vision and understanding of sports and what it means to really build a team," said Bulls fan Keiana Barrett.

"Just seeing how well he used the talents around everybody, knowing your players, knowing what their strengths and attributes are," said Bulls fan Jody Patterson.

Before serving as general manager of the Bulls, Krause served as a scout for the Bulls and the Chicago White Sox, both teams owned by Jerry Reinsdorf. Most recently, Krause was named a special assistant to the scouting department of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011.

Krause is survived by his wife, two children and four grandchildren.

In a statement released by the Bulls, former player and current general manager John Paxson said, "I owe a lot to Jerry. If it weren't for him bringing me to Chicago in 1985, I probably never would have been a Bull. He had a great eye for talent, and his ability to build a team is unrivaled. He's one of the best the league has ever seen. We're keeping Thelma and his family in our thoughts and prayers."
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