For most viewers of Michael Jordan's documentary, then-GM Jerry Krause is the archetypal villain behind the infamous break up of the Chicago Bulls dynasty. The 10-part docu-series revolves around the 1997-98 Bulls season, also termed as "The Last Dance" by head coach Phil Jackson. The opening episodes shed light on the deteriorating relationship between Jerry Krause and the players and the head coach. While many still think Krause is the reason behind the Bulls break up after their sixth championship in seven years, per FOX sports analyst Skip Bayless, Phil Jackson was the "real villain" of the Bulls break up and not Jerry Krause.
.@RealSkipBayless on Phil Jackson declining to come back after the 1998 season:— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) May 18, 2020
"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
The former columnist for the Chicago Tribune is known to have closely followed the Bulls during the 1990s and came to the conclusion that Phil Jackson had already made his mind up about leaving the Bulls after the 1997-98 season and there was nothing Jerry Krause could do about it. “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,” Skip Bayless said.
The analyst branded Phil Jackson as a 'spin master' and claimed he conned Michael Jordan into believing he was done with the NBA. Bayless expressed his thoughts on The Last Dance's final episodes and further explained his theory on Twitter stating 'Michael Jordan should have come back without Phil Jackson.'
MJ GOT CONNED BY THE SPINMASTER, PHIL JACKSON, WHO A YEAR LATER WAS COACHING SHAQ & KOBE TO 3 STRAIGHT TITLES. MJ SHOULD'VE TOLD REINSDORF TO GO GET AN EXPERIENCED COACH, MAYBE DOUG COLLINS AGAIN.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 18, 2020
This makes me sicker than ever: MJ now says "we coulda won 7." Phil was done, not MJ. Yet he let Phil, the Spinmaster, get away with a grieving ceremony in which the Bulls all wrote and burned their thoughts on the '98 team. MICHAEL SHOULD'VE COME BACK WITHOUT PHIL.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 18, 2020
Jerry Krause's unfinished memoir further supports the theory that Phil Jackson wanted to leave the Bulls even before the 1997-98 season began. As quoted by an international publication, Krause wrote in his memoir, "We had the finest coach in the game in Phil Jackson, whom the public did not know didn’t want to coach a rebuilding team and who’d informed us before the season that he wanted to ride off to Montana and take at least a year off."
After his farewell with the Bulls as head coach in 1998, Phil Jackson took a year off from coaching. A year later he joined the Los Angeles Lakers and guided them to three NBA championships between 2000 and 2002. In 2004, Jackson announced his retirement, only to return a year later with the Lakers. With Jackson at the helm and Kobe Bryant leading the line, Lakers won two more NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. Jackson retired in 2011.