The 1987 NBA Draft, Jerry Krause & “The Last Dance”

Episodes 1 & 2 of “The Last Dance” are pretty much dominating the interwebs this week. With no real sport to watch and none really lining up in the tunnel ready to make it’s triumphant return to our lives, that documentary about the late 90’s Chicago Bulls is all we really have as a country to cozy up to and banter about. As a 7 year old kid when Jordan dropped 63 on the Celtics in April of 1986, I’m well versed with this squad as they were a YUGE part of my yout growing up in Chicago (Bridgeport).

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The first two episodes of the series placed a hard focus on the tenuous relationship between players and management, more specifically Jerry Krause and Michael Jordan / Scottie Pippen. I remembered a lot of this specifically as it was being retold. I remembered that they called him “Crumbs” a hilarious, but cruel nickname for a grown man in a position of power. Anywho, as much as there was tension at the time, my memory was that Krause was good at his job and that he was proficient in putting pieces around MJ that allowed him to thrive. I still believe that, but a few pieces of evidence from the 1987 draft have come to my attention that have me softening my position a bit.

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Really? Now, forgive me if I missed the article from 1985 or something that denotes Krause was scouting ole Pip before the rest of the NBA population got wind of him, but just perusing the 1987 draft board, it would appear that Pip went #5 overall.

It would seem to me that maybe the rest of the NBA also saw the footage of NAIA Pip dunking over a bunch of dudes that wouldn’t get picked first in your local park pick-up game. To me “discovering” a player would be like picking some no-name at the back of round 2 and having them become a star. Now, don’t get me wrong, trading up from #8 to #5 to draft him deserves credit, a savvy move that paid off, but you picked high in the draft and nailed the pick. It’s good, but it’s hardly worthy of Krause’s other nickname “the Sleuth”.


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After the first two episodes, I saw a handful of people asking about how little Horace Grant was mentioned in “The Last Dance” and truth be told I thought that myself. Shouldn’t Krause get some credit for a very solid selection of Grant, who was never a star, but was a solid player for a long time in the NBA. Let’s look back at the 1987 draft.

Number 1 – I totally forgot that Grant went this fucking high (picked 10th overall)

Number 2 – Look who went right behind Grant, Reggie FUCKING Miller…..seems like that might have been a slightly better pick. Now I know people are going to get into the “You only have 1 ball theory”, but elite 3 point shooting (for the era, ldo) was super valuable for the 2nd 3 peat Bulls so me thinks it would’ve been pretty hot for the early 90’s version. Not to mention, he’d have been worth something in trade should you get to the point where you are supposed to pay him and don’t want to.

I’m not a guy who looks behind a draft pick per se to see what other good players the Bulls could’ve drafted, but when we are going to pat Jerry on the proverbial fanny for being good at recognizing talent, I think it probably applies. Fuck, I’d have thought Mark Jackson at point guard would’ve given these Bulls a different look too.

In conclusion, I still think Krause was good at the GMings, but to me some of this stuff is a little more hindsight bias and a little less, the guy is a got-damn genius.


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