In a city that has won only 24 professional championships since 1900, Jerry Reinsdorf is the proud owner of seven of them. He might even call it a Lucky 7.
Theres been luck at everything Ive ever done, Reinsdorf admits. Ive had a tremendous amount of good luck, a little bad luck along the way, but the good luck so outweighs it.
Like in 1985, when Reinsdorf and a group of investors bought the Chicago Bulls, who had a young, up-and-coming 22-year-old guard by the name of Michael Jordan. How much did they pay for the franchise?
For some perspective, thats 5.1 million less than what Rashard Lewis is making himself this season with the Washington Wizards. Hes averaging 7.8 points a game.
At the time we made the deal, no one knew what Michael Jordan was going to be, Reinsdorf says. And I dont think they would have sold the team if they had known what he was going to be, so clearly I was lucky.
Reinsdorf shared these personal thoughts in a rare extended interview about his career for Inside Look: Jerry Reinsdorf which premieres Wednesday night on CSN at 7pm. The Bulls and White Sox Chairman prefers to stay more in the background, far away from any lights or microphones. In fact, when I asked him if he could talk to the Jerry Reinsdorf who first bought the White Sox in 1981 and tell him one thing, he replied, I would tell him dont be very accessible to the media.
But with cameras rolling inside his office at U.S. Cellular Field, Reinsdorf opened up about his time as owner of both Chicago teams, speaking about such topics as the 1994 baseball strike, where Reinsdorf was portrayed as one of the most hawkish owners behind it. Looking back, if the strike had been averted, I have to believe the game would have been better off, he said. Reinsdorf talks about the first time he met Jordan, how he flippantly predicted that the Bulls would win the NBA lottery and draft Derrick Rose despite having a 1.7 percent chance, and he reveals his all-time best White Sox team. Its not 2005.
We also had one of the games all-time greatest hitters make a surprise visit right in the middle of the interview.
Theres so much great content, we couldnt cram it all into a 30-minute show. So heres what you wont see Wednesday, but what you can read about today.
On not re-signing Mark Buehrle:
Mark Buehrle was a pillar of this franchise. He was a cornerstone, he was here for a long time. He came out of nowhere. He was a 38th round draft choice. He did everything we ever asked for him. He caught all the first pitches, he threw a perfect game, a no-hitter. Anytime you needed him to go to a school or a hospital, or whatever, Mark Buehrle was always there. But the fact is at his age, it didnt make sense for us to do what the Marlins were prepared to do for him. So he went, certainly with my blessing. I spoke to him and said, You gotta take it. You gotta take this deal. And Mark said, Ill be back in 4 years.
What he was doing the night the Bulls won the NBA lottery in 2008, giving them the number-one pick to draft Derrick Rose:
I was at a White Sox game that night, so we had the lottery on TV. We should have been ninth. They started making the picks. I was nervous that we were going to drop. So they start at 13, 12, 11, 10...now we're supposed to pop up. We don't pop up. Oh my God we're in the top 3 because that's where you go. Then we had to sweat it out as they went down, and then of course they get to the top 3 and they go to a few commercials, so we have to sweat that out. So number 3 comes up and its not us. At that point I know we're going to get what we think is a great player because its either going to be Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley. Then of course, the rest is history. We get number one, and we take Derrick. We wanted to bring Derrick along slowly, but Derrick didn't let us bring him along slowly. He was ready from the get-go.
How the Bulls were able to trade for Scottie Pippen on draft day in 1987:
I had heard of him, because all year long former Bulls GM Jerry Krause kept saying to me, Scottie Pippen, Central Arkansas. I don't think anybody has seen him. We got to get this guy. This is the guy we got to have. And then Scottie went to one of the pre-draft camps I think in Norfolk, and everyone saw what there was. And then Jerry came to me in a panic and says, I dont know what to do now. Hes been discovered. He says weve got to trade up, we've got to somehow trade up to get this guy, and Jerry pulled it off. We got Scottie. So in that case, we knew what we were getting.