Michael Jordan retired when most of our children were not born, but all of our children now want to buy Jordan shoes. In 2023 alone, Jordan earned $330 million selling products from his Nike label, Air Jordan, almost four times his salary during his entire career. The Air Jordan brand represents 14.16% of Nike’s total revenue. Not because it is known, the Jordan case is less unique: it is unthinkable that a footballer who retired two decades ago would have more popular and commercial appeal today than Messi or Ronaldo , but, although he has not shot a basket since 2003, Jordan is still the coolest . Unlike the current nomadic NBA star, LeBron James , Jordan won all of his titles (six) on the same team, the Chicago Bulls, the best of all time, according to some experts.
So much for the good news for Jordan’s Bulls...
The bad news is that the club honored the 90s sextet team a few days ago, but what should have been a party ended in embarrassment and bad vibes. To begin with, the three most iconic players of that dynasty — Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman — did not show up at the party. Jordan, in fact, has been making a name for himself with the Bulls for two decades. The former player has been president of operations of an NBA franchise (Washington Wizards), and majority shareholder of another ( Charlotte Hornets ), but he has neither been nor expected to be in the management of the Bulls. . The Bulls, finally, have not won a title since Jordan left the club in 1998. Great desert journey.
Well, there are those who blame EVERYTHING said above on Jerry Krause , the manager who put together the winning nineties team, viciously pointed out by Jordan in The Last Dance , the very influential and successful documentary series about Jordan’s Bulls released in Netflix during the pandemic. The main accusation against Krause? Precipitously removing the Bulls from Jordan . Indeed, Krause never hid that he wanted to renew the team, whose winning cycle had stretched far beyond what was expected (knowing when to retire a legendary team, before biology or gentrification give way to decline and painful defeats , is one of the great puzzles of professional sports management). Jordan, who would now fail a test for workplace toxicity (martyrizing his teammates so that they would play better was his motivational fuel), subjected Krause to merciless verbal abuse during those years, making humiliating jokes about his short stature, a very easy resource when one is, ahem, a six-foot basketball player.
It happened 30 years ago, but it is far from healed. During the tribute a few days ago, the damage was paid by Krause’s widow, who burst into tears when her late husband was booed by the stands. Thelma Krause ‘s decomposed face appeared on the video scoreboards of the Bulls ‘ pavilion , an uncomfortable scene that generated a strong shock in American sports.
Stacey King , former Bulls player and television commentator, did not beat around the bush: “It was the worst thing I have ever seen in my life… Those who booed should be ashamed… Whether you like Krause or not, and although “He never made a shot or grabbed a rebound in his life, he brought six titles to this club … It was very rude.”
In short, despite the fact that the Jordan brand is through the roof, the internal management of Jordan’s Bulls victories is one of the most traumatic in the history of sports . A quarter of a century after their last title, their main stars are erased from the tribute and the fans boo the widow of the man who built (and set an expiration date on) the champion team. Maximum creak of fountains. Instead of partying, anger.
What was the reason for the poor metabolization of the internal conflicts that led to victory ? What happened there? It is strange that such a streak of titles failed to bury the disagreements, even retrospectively. We asked two of the people who know the most about this matter: Gonzalo Vázquez , a great Spanish NBA expert, and Sam Smith , the American journalist who wrote the first book about Jordan’s Bulls in 1991 . Pay attention.
“He talked so much about his problems with Krause that he fanned the flames of anger in the documentary”
Sam Smith: “It was a time of a lot of internal discord, as shown by the absence of Jordan, Pippen and Rodman from the tribute, but I think that most Bulls fans got over the end of the dynasty , 25 years ago, and that the Boos came over the documentary The Last Dance , where Jordan talked so much about his issues with Krause that it fanned the flames of anger.”
Gonzalo Vázquez: “It could have subsided, but there is a very large consensus in the Chicago area that the treatment given to Krause in The Last Dance makes him the final and definitive villain, especially among the younger generations, the ones most they made themselves heard in the booing and that they did not even live through that time. I think there was also some nostalgia and anger, due to the long journey since then and the current situation of the team. All of this acted as an aggravating factor in a ceremony, by the way, that failed from the beginning without its two big names, Jordan and Pippen.”
Sam Smith: “Jerry Krause was very difficult to deal with, confrontational for no real reason other than his personal demons. What he did was become an enemy of Michael Jordan , and knowing the player, Jordan used Krause as his personal little tool to motivate himself.”