Metta World Peace defends ‘Last Dance’ villain Jerry Krause

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NEW YORK — The Last Dance docu-series on the Michael Jordan-era Bulls paints a grim picture of former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, who took the credit for the titles that belonged to Jordan.

But one player stood up for the GM who built and dismantled the Bulls dynasty. Queens native Ron Artest — who later changed his name to Metta World Peace — was drafted by Krause with the 16th pick in the 1999 NBA draft.

“For me, I loved Jerry Krause,” World Peace told The Athletic. “He drafted Michael Jordan. He went and found (Scottie Pippen). That was one of the biggest honors, being drafted by Jerry Krause.”

Krause was Bulls general manager from 1985 to 2003. He was the lead executive while the Bulls won six championships in an eight-year span, the only two seasons off coming while Jordan was on his nearly two-season hiatus from basketball.

The Bulls won their final championship in 1998, completing an almost unprecedented second three-peat. (Only the 1960s Boston Celtics had a better run, winning eight championships in a row and 10 in 11 years.) Jordan retired the following season, as he said he would if Krause did not retain Phil Jackson as head coach.

Artest walked through the United Center doors two summers later.

World Peace said at the time, he had no idea of the underlying tensions between Bulls players and management. The Bulls were his favorite NBA team, the team he played with in video games. Being drafted by Chicago was surreal to him.

But as World Peace tells it, it was Krause’s almost unwavering belief in him, even as he got into issues off the court, that helped his game take the jump it did to the next level.

“I was going through getting beside myself, for one. You get paid a little bit of money. It’s more than you ever had in your life. So things changed for me. And then also the pressure of taking care of people, and then the pressure of playing well,” World Peace said on the “Tampering” podcast. “Jerry would always tell me, ‘Ron you’re gonna be a great player. Don’t worry about your offense. Don’t worry about scoring. Anyone that plays defense like you is gonna be a hell of a player. You’re here for the long-term.’

“And then I just kept getting in trouble with a lot of behind the scenes things that happened in Chicago. They didn’t want to trade me, but Jerry was like, ‘One more incident and you’re done.’ And I kept getting in trouble. But Jerry really believed in me before I believed in myself.”

Krause, according to World Peace, also believed he could one-up the Jordan-era Bulls’ success.

“Jerry told me one day — I love Jerry — he’s like, ‘Ron, we’re gonna get No. 7. You’re gonna be here, and it’s gonna just destroy those other six titles,’ ” World Peace said. “Jerry would always say, ‘No. 7 is the most important one.’ ”


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