Tim Floyd was tapped to succeed Phil Jackson as head coach of the Bulls in advance of the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season - fresh off the team's sixth title in 1998.
But his relationship with general manager Jerry Krause dates back to nearly a decade prior, when Krause first discovered Floyd coaching an unconventional, small-ball style at the University of New Orleans in 1989.
On the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Floyd joined Leila Rahimi to break down the evolution of his relationship with Krause and his long, winding road to eventually helming the Bulls in the years immediately following the dynasty.
"He (Krause) watched us (University of New Orleans) play them three times that year, and he walked up to me after the third time we played 'em and he said, 'Look, I'm Jerry Krause from the Chicago Bulls and I just wanted to let you know that I'd like for you to be our next head coach of the Bulls one day,'" Floyd told Rahimi. "And I thought, wow, that's nice, that was an unusual introduction."
Krause kept in constant contact with Floyd throughout the dynasty years - eventually to the point where he called Floyd "four, five times a week, sometimes every day during the week," according to Floyd. One summer, Krause invited Floyd up to Chicago for a crash-course in the Triangle offense, which Floyd declined. Another time, the two fished together upon Krause's request.
"He shared a lot about what they were going through as an organization and team and what their expectations were and the protocol," Floyd told Rahimi. "He shared video tapes, he'd send video tapes of every ballgame for me to look at, which I looked at maybe 10 through the years because I was so worried about my own team, and I never was quite sure that I really wanted to do it, because it did not fit the mold of what I wanted as a young coach."
Floyd expressed admiration for the job Krause did constructing the Bulls' organization during the championship years, from shrewd roster acquisitions, to forward-thinking staff hires (e.g. strength coach Al Vermeil, team psychologist Dr. Steve Julius). Still, as the specter of the Bulls gig loomed, Floyd rebuked Krause on multiple occasions, saying he felt the dynasty - which had a following and impact bigger than Floyd had ever seen - needed to "die its own death."
"I knew that going in," Floyd said when Rahimi asked if he knew his now-famous meeting with Jerry Reinsdorf in 1996 in Seattle was about more than scouting Ervin Johnson, then a member of the SuperSonics. "Jerry Krause just felt like, you know, that this was a time that he wanted me to meet his owner. And that was during the Seattle series in '96 (1996 NBA Finals)."
During that meeting, in which Floyd and Reinsdorf walked around the city of Seattle for multiple hours, Floyd laid out why he couldn't take the Bulls job at that time, saying he would have felt "uncomfortable going in knowing the strength of their loyalty towards their coach (Jackson), which I admired as a coach." Reinsdorf then asked him to convey that message to Krause, which he did.
According to Floyd, Krause pushed for his hiring after the 1997 NBA Finals, as well.
"The next year, they beat Utah, we had the same conversation after the following year," Floyd told Rahimi. "And then Jerry Krause said, 'Well that's it,' you know, and then going into the last championship season, that fall, is when he and Phil had their talk, and that's when Phil made the comment that wild horses couldn't bring me back."
Indeed, Jackson and Krause's relationship eventually reached a point of no return, the dynasty splintered and Floyd assumed responsibilities for a team in full-fledged rebuild mode. Though Floyd said the impetus behind Krause's preparations were to ensure the Bulls wouldn't exit their run of dominance in as abysmal shape as the 1990s Celtics did, the early 2000s Bulls were defined by talent-starved rosters and underachievement.
"They chose to really blow the team up and move 'em for draft picks and build it for the future. And they met with the media and they told the media it was going to be a rocky road, but they did not want mediocrity," Floyd told Rahimi. "Everybody knew that we weren't very talented, they knew it was gonna be a bumpy road.
"They always treated me with respect," Floyd continued of Reinsdorf, Krause and the Bulls organization, at large. "They treated me well. I got a chance to work with John Paxson and Johnny "Red" Kerr, and got to know Bill Wennington and just some really, really good people within the organization. Karen Stack (Umlauf). Jimmy Stack. Clarence Gaines. Guys I still stay in contact with.
"I got a chance to know many people throughout the league. I learned a great deal as a coach. I learned a great deal about myself in terms of having to exercise patience… I think that served me as a I moved on in my career."
With the tensions between the Bulls' team and management at the center of "The Last Dance," Krause, Jackson and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf have all been hot button topics of discussion.
Now, Floyd offers his account of the events that took place.
Through May 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing every 1998 Chicago Bulls NBA Playoff game (21 total). Find the full schedule here.
Ex-Bulls coach Tim Floyd details bond with Jerry Krause, being hired by Bulls originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago