Skip Bayless is back with a load of Bulls.
The former print journalism superstar and current Fox Sports caricature took to the airwaves following the ending of ESPN's "The Last Dance" with a twist. While social media debated how former (and now deceased) GM Jerry Krause was the man who ended the Bulls dynasty, Bayless pegged Phil Jackson as the one "real villain" who was responsible.
"This did incriminate Phil Jackson as the real villain. Not Jerry Krause — Phil Jackson," Bayless said. "I had lengthy interviews with both Phil and Jerry late in that season in Chicago, and I walked away from my interview with Phil, not trusting him at all, in this sort of Svengali hold, this way that he could hypnotize Michael Jordan and get him to do what Phil wanted to do.
"That Jerry Reinsdorf overruled Jerry Krause as GM, went to Phil after that sixth — and what became final — championship, and said, 'Hey Phil, I want you to come back.' … The owner, thank you Gods, came to his senses, overruled the GM, and said, 'Phil, you've gotta come back.' And Phil said, 'No, I'm done, Jerry Reinsdorf. I need some time away.'"
So, in summation: Because Jackson labeled the 1998 season "The Last Dance," he's the one to hold blame for ending the dynasty. It does make some modicum of sense, because Jackson seemed stubborn enough not to accept coming back after winning the last title.
It might seem like another gasbag segment from Bayless, but he does have some level of insight as to what was happening in Chicago at the time. In 1998, he joined the Chicago Tribune as a columnist, covering the Bulls during the 1998 season. Bayless says he conducted multiple interviews with Krause, Jackson and Jordan at the time.
Bayless says that Jackson passed off the exiting blame to Jordan, saying that Jordan was essentially washed during the final championship run in 1998.
There's also the fact of taking Jerry Reinsdorf's comments at face value. Reinsdorf has come under criticism in years past for his management of both the Bulls and the Chicago White Sox. Who's to say Reinsdorf isn't saving face with his comments?
You can view the full segment here:
.@RealSkipBayless on Phil Jackson declining to come back after the 1998 season:
"This was a bombshell. This incriminated Phil Jackson as the real villain, not Jerry Krause. I'm convinced Phil Jackson already had some kind of handshake deal with the Lakers." pic.twitter.com/GAmt7UGzHm
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) May 18, 2020
We may never get the truth about the breakup of the Bulls, thanks to one small detail: Because Krause died in 2017, he wasn't able to give his side of the story throughout the docuseries, aside from archived footage during the Bulls years.
One thing seems certain: There's more than enough blame to pass around for the end of one of the greatest dynasties the sports world has ever seen.