The Chicago Bulls: Read the Room
As usual, Jerry Reinsdorf failed to read the room. The Bulls are looking at a second-consecutive appearance in the Play-in Tournament, wrapping up another rebuild on a disappointing note. Now isn’t the time to force more nostalgia on the fans, reminding them of an era many feel ended prematurely. Seeing the man many still blame for the destruction of the Bulls’ dynasty—former general manager Jerry Krause—was not going to end well.
On Friday night, the Bulls debuted their Ring of Honor. The Dallas Cowboys have the most famous one. The Bulls already have four retired numbers—Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Bob Love, and Jerry Sloan—along with banners that honor Phil Jackson and Krause.
The new ring is more like Chicago’s Hall of Very Good. The initial inductees are everyone with a banner, from Chet Walker, Artis Gilmore, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoč, Tex Winter, Dick Klein, to the entire 1995-96, 72-10 NBA championship team. When the late Krause’s name and image appeared on the scoreboard, a chorus of boos erupted.
Fans cannot be controlled. Thousands of them are in an arena drinking alcohol and bonding over their irrational love of a logo, arrangement of colors, and civic pride. Stacy King can say on the broadcast that Bulls fans are better than those who booed Krause’s image, but I recall being in the United Center during the Heatles era. Dwyane Wade came up gimpy on a play, and fans cheered.
Reinsdorf knows what he, Jordan, Jackson, and Pippen said about Krause in a documentary that millions of people watched. He should also be well aware of how Chicago sports fans currently feel about the franchises that he owns.
Instead, Reinsdorf did not even appear before the fans at the ceremony, and a widow was forced to endure the jeers, many of which were directed at him as well as his deceased human shield. It’s another awful example of the leadership Reinsdorf has brought to Chicago for more than 40 years.