The Last Dance: Jerry Krause’s love for Majerle fueled Jordan to 1993 title

Guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in action against guard Dan Majerle of the Phoenix Suns (left) during a game at the Arizona Veteran''s Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona.
Guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in action against guard Dan Majerle of the Phoenix Suns (left) during a game at the Arizona Veteran''s Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. /

The Phoenix Suns lost in the 1993 NBA Finals to the Chicago Bulls, but The Last Dance revealed Michael Jordan’s motivation partly came from Jerry Krause’s love for Dan Majerle.

A few of my Chicago friends tell me the hate surrounding Jerry Kraus in the 90s was palpable, even in the pre-Internet era, however, my somewhat-sheltered adolescent self living nowhere close to Chicago had no idea who the General Manager of the Bulls was. That makes a lot of this behind-the-scenes info from The Last Chance is fascinating to me, but nothing more so than the Episode 6 reveal that Jerry Krause played a part in the Chicago Bulls victory over the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals.

I hate bashing a guy strictly from a documentary, but man, Jerry Krause seems like he was the ultimate goober. He fell backward into a dream job and acted like it was his divine right to be there. And when the team won, he took all the credit and got hurt when he wasn’t showered with the love the players received.

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Sure, that’s insanely arrogant and small-minded, but you’d think winning would temper all that. That’s the saying, right? Winning cures all. Not so much here. I would love to see more behind the scenes details because I can’t even imagine what really happened to make every Suns player plus Phil Jackson hate a man that much, despite the team winning title after title.

One of those championships came at the expense of the Phoenix Suns in 1993. In the episode, Michael Jordan talked about this motivation going into that series:

"“I knew Jerry Krause loved Dan Majerle and just because Krause liked him, that was enough for me. You think he’s a great defensive player? Okay, fine, I’m going to show you he’s not. I put it in my mindset that if I don’t do this then are going to consider him on the same level as me and that motivated me to attack.”"

Think about that. The greatest player on the planet hated the General Manager of his team so much, that by him merely talking fondly of an opponent, he set out to prove his General Manager wrong.

That is a level of hatred I can’t wrap my head around.

On top of that, Jordan also had worries people might put Dan Majerle on the same level as him. I like Thunder Dan as much as the next Suns fan, but that is some serious mental gymnastics from MJ.

But I mean, I guess when you’re the best you have to get creative to find ways to stay motivated, and lying to yourself might have been one of the few ways he could do that.

Majerle actually had a decent Finals performance. He put up 17.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and he led all players with 2.2 blocks per game giving some credence to that defensive ability Krause liked. However, when you compare it to Michael Jordan’s 41 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game that series, you wish Krause would have kept his mouth shut.

So, thanks, Jerry Krause. Not only did you make the Bulls dislike you, but you also played a part in denying the Phoenix Suns their best shot at an NBA Championship. Add another city to that hate list.

Next. Michael Jordan's history against the Phoenix Suns. dark