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Editorial: The inexcusable booing of Jerry Krause and how Michael Jordan could assuage the hurt

If there’s a Chicago Bulls “ring of honor” — and now there is — Jerry Krause belongs among the first inductees.

His decade-long run of building teams in the late 1980s and most of the 1990s was a master class in how to construct a championship squad around a once-in-a-generation talent like Michael Jordan. Six titles. Two separate runs of three in a row.

But that’s only part of why it was such a travesty to hear his name lustily booed Friday at the United Center when his induction was announced as his widow, Thelma, choked back tears in palpable dismay.

Regardless of people’s opinion of Krause, and he remains a divisive figure among Bulls fans six years after his death, booing as his family accepted accolades on his behalf is indecent. As broadcaster and former Bull Stacey King said in the moment, those who booed “should be ashamed of themselves.”

That said, who couldn’t have seen this coming? What exactly were Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf thinking when they set up this hastily-arranged ceremony to celebrate the 72-win team that stormed through the NBA in 1995-96 and to induct Jordan, Scottie Pippen and many others, including Krause, into the newly created ring of honor?

Krause was the villain in “The Last Dance,” the documentary on the Jordan era that captivated American viewers during the depths of the pandemic. The show’s narrative blamed Krause for prematurely blowing up that legendary team. There were scenes replayed of players at the time making fun of Krause, whom Jordan cruelly nicknamed “Crumbs.”

That revived grudges that should have been put to bed. So, as inexcusable as it was, the booing was predictable. And the Reinsdorfs bear some responsibility for the hurt Thelma Krause likely is feeling now. We hope the overwhelmingly negative reaction to what happened has softened some of the sting she feels.

Here’s one way to help heal from this grievous error. Jordan — who didn’t attend the festivities himself, instead filming a video thanking the fans and the organization — could publicly give Krause the credit he deserves and call for an end to the vocalizing of ancient grievances that reflect poorly on all who wallow in them. It was Jordan, after all, who essentially had creative control over “The Last Dance” and painted Krause in such a negative light.

MJ isn’t obligated to do so. The ring of honor wasn’t his idea. It just is the right thing to do — and it would mean far more than the tut-tutting of boo-birds by the Reinsdorfs and others still tied to the Bulls organization.

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