Michael Jordan won a widow getting booed. My colleague Stephen Knox covered this yesterday, the booing of Jerry Krause’s widow Thelma during the Chicago Bulls’ Ring of Honor ceremony on Friday, and he isn’t wrong. It’s another “feather” in the “cap” of Jerry Reinsdorf, though he wouldn’t have been involved in the planning. And not counting on fans to act in the most boorish and imbecilic manner possible doesn’t mean the fans should be absolved for doing so.
No, this one falls on M. Jeff. Even if there were fans who were 10 during the last championship, that would make them near 40 now and old enough to know better. That doesn’t mean they do, but they’ve also been influenced by Jordan’s decades-long smear campaign, mostly because he didn’t like how Krause looked.
The younger generation certainly was influenced by “The Last Dance,” another entity that Jordan felt he had to “win,” just like his combative Hall of Fame speech or his friendship with Charles Barkley or hundreds of other things that aren’t a competition. He had final say on that documentary and he was going to make sure he won. Jordan spent most of the 1990s bitching at Krause for trading his buddy Charles Oakley (a definite plus to the Bulls championship hosts) or whatever else, forever ignoring that Krause constructed two different teams around him and Scottie Pippen to pull off double three-peats.
Perhaps Krause spent the latter part of the ‘90s dreaming of the time he could try again with a blank slate because he grew weary of having Jordan badmouth him to his face and in the press simply to make sure most of the credit went to him (Jordan never even made a conference final before the arrival of Pippen and Horace Grant, but the latter two had a 55-win season without Jordan when he either ditched them or was suspended on the eve of the season, leaving Krause no time to construct a proper roster to try and accommodate for some of that loss. A fact that conveniently was also left out of the documentary. Strange, that). Jordan didn’t point out in the doc either that Reinsdorf could have stepped in and been the boss, because Jordan wasn’t going to deride the guy who paid him more money than anyone else in the history of the game by that point and Reinsdorf would gladly accept the help in shirking the responsibility.
So congratulations, MJ. You won. Thelma Krause had to endure being booed for something she had nothing to do with. You poisoned yet another generation against your “enemy,” who only helped your dreams come true and merely wanted you to show a shred of appreciation for it. You didn’t have to. You won on that end too. What a winner you are.
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