And yet even after winning consecutive titles in 1991 and '92 and having a good chance at a third this year—as of Sunday, Chicago possessed the league's second-best record (38-17)—Bull players still do not appreciate the man at the helm.
Appreciate him? Lord, they barely acknowledge him. They even ridicule him, tell jokes about him, call him Crumbs. Legend has it Jordan hung that nickname on Krause because, supposedly, there are always doughnut crumbs on Krause's lapels. "That came from Charles Oakley," corrects Jordan, referring to the former Chicago forward who is now with the Knicks. They pull tricks on him, crack on him. Not long ago Krause left his hat on the team bus. When he returned, he found it in the bathroom, in the bottom of the commode.
Would that happen to Krause's counterparts such as Elgin Baylor of the Los Angeles Clippers? When the Bulls received their second set of championship rings last November, Krause walked onto the court to get his and, shockingly, was booed by the crowd. Love does not flow to Jerry Krause.
"The strangest thing I ever saw," says Bull forward Horace Grant, "was Krause getting treatment on his back in the training room." Strange? How so? "He took off his shirt."
The body. Lithe, lanky greyhounds can't get past it. Nor can the press. Nor, it seems, can the public. "It bothers me that because he's not 6'2" and good-looking, he doesn't get the respect he deserves," says Reinsdorf.
Indeed, with what he has achieved, Krause in all his disheveled roundness could—should—be seen as a lovable Runyonesque character, particularly in a city that has embraced oddballs like William (the Refrigerator) Perry and Mike Ditka. But because he is so serious about everything, because he never lets up, because he needs approval so badly and wears that need like a sign on his back, he never strikes a sympathetic chord with observers.
"He says, 'I'm ugly and fat, and that's why people hate me,' " says Chicago Tribune sportswriter and Krause nemesis Sam Smith. "But that's not it at all. I have lots of friends who are fat and ugly, and I don't hate them."
"Hey, Sleuth, see any bench help here?"
The question comes from Herb Rudoy, a Chicago sports agent who has crept down behind Krause at the UIC Pavilion. "The papers say you need bench help."
Krause turns. "That what they say?"