Michael Jordan first began having disagreements with Jerry Krause in his second NBA season, shortly after Krause became the Bulls’ GM.
When Michael Jordan came into the NBA, Larry Bird was the best player in the world while Magic Johnson was dubbed Tragic Johnson. The trio changed basketball in their own ways during the prime of their careers.
Now Michael might’ve had a much bigger cultural influence than any sportsperson alive, but he was still bound by some rules. Jordan may have been MVP material since the day he walked into the NBA. But he had nothing like the kind of player power wielded by stars today.
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This became apparent to him when he sat out with injury in his sophomore year. The Bulls had made the NBA playoffs on the back of his play in 1984-85, but they were stuck in a quagmire at the bottom of the East the following year.
How disagreements began between Michael Jordan and Jerry Krause
Jerry Krause wanted the Bulls to tank and obtain a higher draft pick. Unlike Jordan, Krause believed in the utilitarian, pragmatic approach designed for slightly more success in the longer term.
“When he had the broken foot back in 1985, I told him he couldn’t play. … This kid has had his butt kissed by everybody in the world except his parents and me.”
“If we listened to him, we’d have [former Tar Heel guard] Buzz Peterson on the team! My goal is not to be his friend. My goal is to win titles.”
For MJ, his beef with Krause began in 1986, with what he viewed as management’s unsavory opportunism around Jordan’s broken foot — the idea that Jerry Krause wanted to extend Jordan’s absence in order to miss the playoffs and get a higher draft pick.pic.twitter.com/W6l8IqXKaC
— Jack M Silverstein (@readjack) April 19, 2020
This animosity lasted all through Krause and Jordan’s years together on the Chicago Bulls. Michael never took to Jerry freely after perceiving that he was being treated like a commodity by his team.
Now Krause might have made a ton of great money moves and drafted the likes of Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant. But his brusque and rather confrontational approach to dealing with Jordan has subtracted a good deal from what could’ve been an almost untarnished legend.