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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Joe Cowley

Bulls fans still getting criticized for treatment of Jerry Krause

Less than 24 hours after Bulls fans booed former general manager Jerry Krause and brought his widow, Thelma, to tears during a Ring of Honor ceremony, the criticism was still flying in. (Paul Beaty/AP)

SAN ANTONIO — All of a sudden, booing Santa Clause — like Eagles fans famously did back in 1968 — seems quite pedestrian.

Stay classy, Chicago.

Less than 24 hours after fans at the United Center made national news for all the wrong reasons, big-time personalities within the NBA and outside of the game continued condemning what took place Friday night.

At halftime of the Warriors-Bulls game, the team’s inaugural Ring of Honor class was being introduced, and as soon as former general manager Jerry Krause appeared on the video scoreboard, the boos started raining down. It was so bad that his widow, Thelma, was brought to tears as former Bulls guard Ron Harper tried to console her.

“It’s unnecessary; it’s impolite; it’s ignorant,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game Saturday. “If anything, it’s like a snapshot of the world that we live in today where meanness seems to be a lot more condoned. I guess I’m naïve, but I never knew that there were that many people willing and ready to act that way in our country, and even more people doing things violently like it’s acceptable. I think that’s just the by-product of it. It’s the mood that we’re in.

“I’m not going to go into the politics and all that stuff, but we see it all around us. It’s a bad example. It’s something that they would teach their kids not to do, but they do it. It’s ignorant. Krause was wonderful. He did a hell of a job.” 

Bulls coach Billy Donovan also spoke about it for the first time. He didn’t really get the full story until the team had left the United Center to fly to San Antonio.

“I was really disappointed,” Donovan said. “For his wife to have to sit there and go through that and hear that as her husband had passed was just really disappointing to me. It was an opportunity to honor the team and even honor her.”

Not much went well during the two days of ‘‘celebration.’’

While Bulls personnel worked tirelessly to get as many players and staff in town for the celebration, it was admittedly thrown together in six weeks, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said.

And then not having Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in attendance was just a huge swing-and-miss. Jordan at least sent a video message, as did Dennis Rodman, who couldn’t make it into town because of the weather.

The booing of Krause, however, was the low point on a night that already was sinking in mud.

‘‘Bulls fans — let’s do better than this. These legends ALL deserve our respect for how many happy moments they created for all of us. Respect to the Krause family,” former Bulls center Joakim Noah tweeted.

“I’m devastated for Thelma and for the Krause family,” Warriors coach and former Bulls guard Steve Kerr said. “The fans who booed, they know who they are. To me, it’s absolutely shameful.”

Bulls CEO Michael Reinsdorf said in a statement that “[Krause’s] legacy deserves to be celebrated and respected. We were incredibly honored to have Thelma with us this evening to recognize Jerry as a member of the inaugural Chicago Bulls Ring of Honor.”

Donovan said he and the front office would get together and discuss the situation more when this road trip ends, but the damage has been done.

If it’s true that a good reputation is more valuable than money, then the Bulls’ fan base just filed for bankruptcy.

“The bull---- goes away with time. The great memories last forever,” Noah also tweeted.

It’ll take a long time for this mess to go away.

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