The Chicago Bulls regretfully announce that longtime Bulls executive Jerry Krause has passed away at the age of 77. Krause, the architect of Chicago’s six World Championship teams, was a member of the Bulls’ front office for 18 seasons (March 26, 1985 – April 7, 2003).
“The entire Bulls organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Jerry Krause,” said Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “Jerry was one of the hardest working guys I have ever been around, and he was one of the best talent evaluators ever. Jerry played an integral role in our run of six championships in eight years. He truly was the architect of all our great teams in the ’90s. I would not have been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame if it were not for Jerry. We will miss him tremendously, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his wife Thelma and the Krause family.”
Krause, a native of Chicago, took over Chicago’s basketball operations department on March 26, 1985, following a successful run as a scout for the Baltimore Bullets, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and, previously, the Bulls (1969-71). During his NBA career, he was responsible for the drafting of future Hall of Famers Earl Monroe, Wes Unseld and Scottie Pippen. He also played a key role in the drafting of four NBA Rookie of the Year recipients in Monroe, Unseld, Alvin Adams and Elton Brand. In addition, Krause worked to select other NBA stars such as Jerry Sloan, Norm Van Lier, Clifford Ray, Michael Cooper and Norm Nixon.
Among the players he drafted for the Bulls were Pippen, Charles Oakley, Horace Grant, Stacey King, B.J. Armstrong, Toni Kukoc, Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Jamal Crawford and Tyson Chandler. Along with Michael Jordan, Pippen and Grant were the cornerstones of Chicago’s first three-peat teams. From a free-agent standpoint, Krause complemented his rosters with the signings of John Paxson, Trent Tucker, Steve Kerr, Bill Wennington, Jud Buechler, Randy Brown, Ron Harper, Robert Parish, Brian Williams and countless others. He also traded for Bill Cartwright, Luc Longley and Dennis Rodman, who all played critical roles for Chicago’s championship squads. Perhaps his greatest move was when he hired Phil Jackson from the Continental Basketball Association’s Albany Patroons, first as an assistant coach and later as head coach of the Bulls. They formed the most successful executive and head coach duo in NBA history, as Chicago won six NBA titles in a span of eight seasons. Krause also hired assistant coaches Tex Winter, Johnny Bach, Jimmy Rodgers, Bill Cartwright and Frank Hamblen. For his efforts, he was named NBA Executive of the Year by his peers in 1987-88 and 1995-96. He also was honored by the Bulls when the team raised a banner in recognition of his many contributions on Oct. 31, 2003.
“I owe a lot to Jerry. If it weren’t for him bringing me to Chicago in 1985, I probably never would have been a Bull,” said Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson. “He had a great eye for talent, and his ability to build a team is unrivaled. He’s one of the best the league has ever seen. We’re keeping Thelma and his family in our thoughts and prayers.”
“Jerry was a great basketball executive who I was fortunate to have worked for when I first joined the Bulls,” said General Manager Gar Forman. “For those that did not know him, Jerry was an even better person. He was a quality human being who treated everyone great. He will be missed dearly. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Krause is survived by his wife, Thelma; his two children, Stacy and David; and, his grandchildren Colette, Josh, Mia and Riley.
Information related to a memorial service for Krause will be announced at a later date.