All of a sudden, Jerry Krause is a famous man again.
The former general manager of the Chicago Bulls was a big part of the first two episodes of “The Last Dance” Sunday night -- playing his role as team punching bag.
It was incredible how it turned out for Krause, who died in 2017. He drafted, signed or traded for every player on those championship Chicago teams except the most important one -- Michael Jordan -- and he seemingly couldn’t wait to tear that team up and prove to the world he was smart enough to do it all again.
But the fact was, the only other person on the planet who bought that idea was the team’s owner, Jerry Reinsdorf -- who probably liked the idea that he could shrink his team’s payroll by starting to rebuild.
Krause was derided by everyone in Chicago, most of whom took their cue from the Bulls’ players, who called Krause "Crumbs," because he always seemed to have a few on the front of his shirt.
Chicago Tribune columnist Bernie Lincicome wrote this after Krause was named the NBA’s executive of the year:
"While it is true that Krause and [team mascot] Benny the Bull have never been seen together, I discount all rumors that they are the same creature. For one thing, Benny has another suit."
A lot of people don’t know this, but Krause once briefly served as general manager of the Triple-A Portland Beavers. I was a clubhouse boy for the team at that time and my younger brother, fresh out of Little League, was a bat boy, for which he was paid the princely sum of a dollar a game.
But Krause was never around to come across with the money. My brother would drop by the office, located deep in the cold and dark bowels of what was then Civic Stadium, looking for a check or for Krause himself.
The man was never around.
Finally, one day I happened to be standing outside as my brother entered for another fruitless attempt to get the twenty bucks or so that the Beavers owed him.
And I saw Krause exiting from the backdoor of the office, looking over his shoulder to see if anyone saw him.
Fortunately, Krause was either let go or quit that job soon after that. I don't think he even made it to mid-season.
"They paid me $8,700 for that job," said Krause later, "and I just about went out of my mind. I wanted to get back to scouting."
Certainly, there was an overall sigh of relief from ballpark personnel when he left.
Later, when he showed up as the GM of the Bulls, I was shocked. But when players began to display public disgust at not being able to get more money out of that team, I wasn’t surprised.
I wanted to tell them, when you want to ask him for your money, he won't be there.