Gaines knows the inner workings of Krause and the championship Bulls
Ask Clarence Gaines Jr. what it was like to work for Jerry Krause and he begins with a warning.
"That's a complicated question," he said. "How long do have time for?"
Gaines Jr. was a scout for the Bulls from 1989-2000, but technically, he goes all the way back to Krause's earliest days of scouring the country for talent.
One of Krause's favorite success stories was landing Earl "The Pearl" Monroe for the Baltimore Bullets with the No. 2 pick of the 1967 NBA Draft. Monroe played at Winston-Salem State for Gaines Jr.'s father, Hall of Famer Clarence "Big House" Gaines.
The younger Gaines was too young to remember much about Monroe's college days, but he's heard the stories. He's heard a ton of stories.
"Big House" Gaines passed away in 2005. Krause died in 2017.
"Jerry's a storyteller and he'd tell you the same stories over and over again," Gaines Jr. said. "Jerry first saw Earl Monroe at the 1965 NAIA tourney. Jerry was always scouring the bushes.
"Jerry got the (Bulls general manager) job in the spring of '85. He started calling some of his old contacts and he called my dad. He said, 'Big House, who's in your conference that I need to know about?' He said, 'Well, we've got a young man named Charles Oakley who you should definitely scout and get to know.'"
Oakley, from Virginia Union, ended up being Krause's first draft pick, acquired in a draft-night trade in '85. That was also around the time Gaines Jr. began a relationship that would result in a scouting job.
"I first met Jerry because of Earl Monroe," he said. "Monroe had his jersey retired by the Knicks in March of 1986. My dad was at the CIAA tournament at the time, but his team lost. So he decided he was going to go to the jersey retirement ceremony. Jerry being Jerry, he was coming to the CIAA to scout the event.
"Jerry called my father asking for a ticket, because he didn't want to be on press row. He wanted to be up in the stands and in his own way be incognito and live up to his own reputation as 'The Sleuth.' I was in charge of getting him the ticket. We ended up having a conversation, then we exchanged numbers and he followed up with me."
Gaines Jr. was a football player in college at Williams & Mary. He got his MBA at the University of North Carolina and moved to Southern California to work for Eastman Kodak.
When first contacted by Krause, Gaines Jr. began scouting games in the Los Angeles area during his free time, with no compensation besides expenses. But he was hired full-time by the Bulls in the summer of '89 and moved to Chicago.
At the time, the Bulls had a cozy front office of Krause, Gaines Jr. and assistant general manager Jim Stack. The team was still a few years away from building the Berto Center.
"Jerry identified with being a scout," Gaines Jr. said. "The one thing he wanted to do with his scouts was to give them the respect that he might not necessarily have gotten early in his career, as well as to fairly compensate them. So from that standpoint, Jerry brought that to the table.
"Jerry gave you a lot of freedom in terms of we'd sit down together and figure out where we were going to go. There wasn't a whole lot of us. It was a really tight-knit organization where everybody had a say and was able to express their opinion. So in those terms, it was good."
Most viewers of "The Last Dance" documentary, whether or not they watched the Bulls championship run as it happened, have probably had this thought: Krause hired Phil Jackson to coach the team. If the team was winning championships and Jackson was using Tex Winter's triangle office, per Krause's instructions, why were Krause and Jackson such bitter enemies by the time the run ended in 1998?
"It's not that hard to figure out, when you understand life and people coexisting over time," Gaines Jr. said. "There was a great coach for the San Francisco 49ers, George Seifert. Eventually, Seifert ended up getting fired by team president Carmen Policy, even though Seifert did an outstanding job. Policy explained it this way: We just wore each other out.
"Jerry had a type of personality that over time is going to grate on you. Just the day to day interactions of being around each other; I think both of them together and who they are and the way they are -- they just wore each other out. That's a simplistic way of explaining a complicated situation."
Eventually, Gaines Jr. and Krause wore each other out too. There were disagreements along the way and Gaines Jr. left the Bulls in 2000. Ironically, Gaines Jr. ended up being hired by Jackson to scout the Knicks from 2014-18.
These days, he's is semiretired in California. And he has plenty of old stories to share.
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