Former Bulls GM Jerry Krause has been the target of many a sports fan's ire through four episodes of ESPN's Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance. The first pair of episodes, in particular, illustrated his desire to kickstart rebuilding the team after they won two straight championships and the contentious relationship between Krause, his best players, and his head coach.
Charles Barkley, appearing on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, fired back at the notion that Krause and Krause alone was responsible for the deconstruction of one of sports' greatest dynasties. Instead, he pointed the finger at owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and said to blame Krause over Reinsdorf was "asinine and absurd." The full segment:
"[Krause] didn't take that apart. Anybody who thinks that is a fool," said Barkley. "That thing was all orchestrated by Jerry Reinsdorf. The notion that that little man broke up the Bulls is asinine and absurd. Just use plain common sense. Jerry Reinsdorf broke up the Bulls because he didn't want to pay anybody.
"You think about this. He let Horace Grant go, because he became a free agent and [Reinsdorf] didn't want to pay him. They probably won't talk about that in the documentary. That's why he left and went to Orlando. He only paid Michael the last two years. When he had Michael at a bargain, he was happy. So he didn't want to pay Michael. He paid him those last two years and he had Scottie on a great deal. That's the reason he broke up the Bulls, strictly because of money. But to try to make Jerry Krause be the bad guy, I thought that was very disingenuous by Jerry Reinsdorf."
I'm inclined to side with Barkley here because, even with the influence Krause had in the organization after nearly 15 years at the helm, there's no way he could have undertaken the bold process of tearing down the Bulls dynasty without his boss signing off on it. That's made even more likely when you consider the reasoning why Reinsdorf hired Krause, who started off as a baseball scout for the White Sox, in the first place: Krause wanted to build a team the way Reinsdorf wanted to. Therefore, it goes to reason that if Krause's preferred path forward strayed from Reinsdorf's at any time, Reinsdorf would replace him with someone who had the same vision. The fact that this did not happen indicates Reinsdorf's vision aligned with Krause when the latter decided it was time to reset.
As enjoyable as the documentary is to watch, there's always two sides to every story, and the truth usually falls somewhere in the middle. This isn't any different.