CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bulls fans booed former general manager Jerry Krause on Friday night during a halftime ceremony to honor the organization’s greats, seemingly moving his widow to tears and drawing criticism from former players.
Krause was one of 13 members of the inaugural class for the Bulls’ “Ring of Honor,” and was being recognized as the architect of their six championship teams. Having died in 2017, Krause was represented by his widow, Thelma, who was visibly upset by a torrent of booing from some fans in the United Center and remained seated rather than acknowledge the crowd.
“It’s absolutely shameful,” said Warriors coach and former Bulls guard Steve Kerr, who was among the honorees but was in the locker room with his team at the time. “Tonight and last night was all about the joy and love that that team shared with the city, and I’m so disappointed in the fans. I want to be specific since there were lots of fans I’m sure did not boo. Those who booed, they should be ashamed.”
Former Bulls forward Stacey King, now an analyst for NBC Sports Chicago, said when play resumed in the third quarter that he was disappointed in the fans that booed, calling them classless.
“I’m telling you what, Chicago is a sports town, and what we witnessed today when Jerry Krause’s name was called and the people that booed Jerry Krause and his widow, who was accepting this honor for him, it was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” King said. “I hurt for that lady. Brought her to tears and whoever booed her in this arena should be ashamed of themselves.”
Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson was one of many former Bulls luminaries who were greeted with raucous cheers. But former star players Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were absent from the festivities.
Jordan, Pippen and Jackson were at odds at times with Krause, one of the themes of “The Last Dance” documentary about the 1997-98 season, the final one of the Bulls dynasty Krause helped build.
“He played a major part in the success that the Bulls had, creating one of the greatest teams ever assembled,” Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan said of Krause. “Family, friends that are still here ought to be appreciated and shouldn’t be disrespected.”
Rodman was scheduled to appear but had his travel plans canceled by inclement weather. Both he and Jordan submitted video messages acknowledging the honor.
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