Chicago Bulls: Jerry Krause did wrong by Scottie Pippen

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) /

One of the most negative lights shed on the first two parts of “The Last Dance” was the Chicago Bulls management handling of Scottie Pippen’s contract.

The official premier of “The Last Dance” in its first two parts of 10 in the ESPN/ABC documentary series on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls came on April 19. And the first two parts of The Last Dance were an instant hit. This Bulls team, especially the likes of their three biggest stars from the dynasty years, will have some new light shed on their situations from their latter days in the Windy City.

One of the first two parts that premiered on the docuseries over the weekend was a specific focus on Hall-of-Fame forward Scottie Pippen. A tumultuous start to the 1997-98 regular season for this Bulls squad largely came about because Pippen was recovering from a foot injury. Pippen had suffered the injury the previous season, in the Eastern Conference Finals, but elected not to get surgery at the outset of the 1997 offseason (largely out of spite).

It is well documented how underpaid Pippen was throughout most of the 1990’s. Most Bulls fans didn’t need this docuseries to inform them of that fact. Pippen signed a seven-year deal worth around $2-3 million per season. At the time, Pippen was pretty clearly one of the top 10 players in the NBA, if not in the top five.

The value of Pippen to the Bulls was well recognized by his teammates in the start of the docuseries. Michael Jordan had a lot of praise to shroud over Pippen and the role he played in all of the team’s success in the 1990’s. Dennis Rodman also has done much of the same lauding Pippen and his significance to the Bulls success.

But the pair that apparently felt as if Pippen wasn’t as valuable as he actually was encompassed the two Jerrys. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf didn’t play as much of a role in the amount of disrespect and friction that emerged between the players and front office as general manager Jerry Krause, but he certainly didn’t help the situation.

Krause was the one who egged on the situation and even treated the trade rumors poorly in the public eye. This has to be one of the few general managers that was actively trying to rebuild a franchise while it was still in the midst of its dynasty years.

The rumors that surfaced recently that the Bulls tried to dish out Pippen for Tracy McGrady in 1997, but apparently that MJ vetoed the trade. There is no doubt that Krause wanted to pull this off and get his way, but the rest of the organization wouldn’t allow it.

There was a point in the first night of The Last Dance that Reinsdorf admitted that he thought it was a bad idea that Scottie take such a low ball contract offer. He even said the same about Jordan. Pippen would admit to essentially wanting to “secure the bag” and take care of his family while he had the opportunity earlier in his career.

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I find no fault to the Bulls front office signing Pippen down to a extreme value contract that Pippen agreed to. But how they handled his situation from then on out, along with Jordan, was where the extreme fault began. From poor trade rumors, to friction within the organization, Krause was not the most likable figure and was clearly the foundation to why the Bulls blew up after 1998.