While taking shots at Jerry Krause, Magic Johnson explained how the Chicago Bulls’ front-office missed out on a chance of winning 4-6 championships more, by not keeping Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen happy.
The Chicago Bulls franchise is one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. In fact, back in the 1990s, the organisation was the most dominant team, winning all six of their NBA championships within an eight-year span, between 1990-1998.
Behind the leadership of Michael Jordan, alongside Hall-Of-Famers Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, the 1990s Bulls broke several records, had a 72-game winning record, and even make a case for being the most dominant team ever assembled on a basketball court.
However, things weren’t actually as smooth as they were seeming to be from the outside. As we all saw in the docu-series “The Last Dance”, the Bulls organisation did have a lot of drama amongst players, the coaching staff and the management.
It was publicly known that His Airness had a bitter relation with the Bulls then-General Manager Jerry Krause. Despite all the successes the team saw, Jerry was hell-bent on parting ways with coach Phil Jackson after the 1998 season, even if he would go 82-0 and win the sixth championship.
Scottie Pippen too was not treated well, as he was one of the worst-paid players in the league despite being one of the best players. Jordan had even warned the organisation that he would retire from the league if Jackson wasn’t the head coach.
“The Chicago Bulls would have probably won 12 championships had Jerry Krause kept Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen happy”: Magic Johnson
Back in 2020, Magic made an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” and explained:
“I think that Krause just destroyed a dynasty. I think if they were able to keep the team together, give Scottie Pippen his money, keep Michael happy, because he was very happy with Scottie and Phil Jackson as a coach. And he had great role players around him. They would have probably won 10, 11, 12 championships.
They had that type of run in them. But when you start making the superstars unhappy and thinking that management is more important than guys that play on the basketball court, then we got a chance to see that was a huge mistake. Michael Jordan said ‘oh you just treat me like… you can win basketball games without me? I’ll show you that can’t. So he retired that first time and the Bulls didn’t win a championship so he came back and won three straight. And then he was able to just leave the franchise.
The franchise has never been the same since. I think Derrick Rose brought a lot of excitement, but he wasn’t able to bring the championships to Chicago that Michael Jordan was able to do. And so, I think that really hurt the franchise even today.”
“I think that Krause just destroyed a dynasty. I think if they were able to keep the team together … [the Bulls] would have probably won 10, 11, 12 championships.”
— First Take (@FirstTake) May 4, 2020
Despite receiving numerous threats from the players, Jerry stuck to his decision, destroying the Bulls dynasty after their 6th and final championship.
The result? Chicago Bulls immediately lost two of their best players – Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. And their so-called “rebuild” was a complete failure.
The Bulls organisation haven’t been to the NBA Finals ever since. One can only imagine how many more championships the franchise could’ve clinched, had the stubborn Jerry Krause retained Phil Jackson as the head coach.