You wouldn’t boo the Jerry Krause I knew

The Bulls held a ceremony on Friday evening to establish their Ring of Honor.

It was an enjoyable event, but I was disheartened to watch as a group of fans booed when former General Manager Jerry Krause was introduced. Krause, who passed away in 2017, was represented by his wife, Thelma, and she looked upset and embarrassed by the reaction of the crowd.

Many people believe that if you pay for a ticket, it entitles you to do anything that you care to. I disagree. Ex-Bull and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said: “It’s absolutely shameful. I’m so disappointed in the fans. Those who booed, they should be ashamed.” Bulls television color man Stacy King had no problem taking the boobirds to task on the air.

I felt very bad for Mrs. Krause and all of Jerry’s family. I knew Jerry and liked him a lot He was a good guy. How did I get to know Jerry Krause? Fishing, obviously.

In 2000 I decided to interview Krause because I had heard he was a passionate fisherman. I dialed the Berto Center and asked for Krause. I was put into his voice mail. I guessed I would never get a return call.

He called me back within an hour. I answered and the voice on the other end said: “I’m honored that Steve Sarley would be calling me. I’m a big fan. I’ve been reading your work for years and really like it.” I thought I was being pranked, but the Krause voice is unmistakable. He invited me to come out and do the interview and watch the Bulls practice.

Krause met me with a hearty handshake and couldn’t have been any nicer. Meeting this man while standing in front of the Bulls six championship trophies was a thrill.

We sat on a balcony that overlooked the court. We watched coach Tim Floyd run practice and talked fishing and basketball for close to two hours. He gave me a tour of the Berto Center and the locker room and introduced me to Floyd and the players.

I found Krause to be very open and friendly. He was called “The Sleuth” because of his secretive ways, but he was anything but close-mouthed with me. He told me many behind-the-scenes stories about the Bulls and even talked about whom they would draft that upcoming summer and who was in their future free-agent plans.

I truly felt sorry for the man. I could look into his eyes and tell that he was extremely bitter. It hurt him that his wife and kids had to pick up the newspapers on an almost daily basis to read about Krause, whom the press and players liked to insult by calling him “Crumbs” for his occasionally sloppy dress.

I asked Krause if he’d like to take Jordan out fishing for a day to show MJ that Krause could do something better than he could. He tersely said: “I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes in a boat alone with (him),” using a word unfit for a newspaper. I quickly changed the subject.

I didn’t think that Krause would ever stop talking about fishing. He told me that he took up fishing by hitting the local Cook County Forest Preserve District lakes and ponds and grew from there.

He talked about a phenomenal trip he took to fish for bass in Alabama. He related a story about a fly-in trip to Nemo Bay, north of Vancouver for gigantic lake trout. Krause was an absolute fishing maniac.

Krause lived on a pond in north suburban Highland Park. I asked him if I could do a television shoot for MidWest Outdoors at his home. He was so excited I couldn’t believe it. This is a man who constructed six NBA World Championship teams and he seemed more excited by fishing than anything else.

I kept up with Krause until his passing. He always answered my phone calls. I considered him a friend. I’d see him at the sport shows and he always grinned as he waddled up to me to give me hug. Jerry is gone and I really do miss him.

Jerry Krause is an NBA Hall of Famer and a man who built six world championship teams. Booing him at the Ring of Honor ceremony was something that should never have happened.

• Daily Herald Outdoors columnist Steve Sarley can be reached at

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