In 1976, Krause's dream job brought him home. The Bulls hired him, at 37, as their director of player personnel. Even his no-nonsense, hard-working parents celebrated.

The party didn't last long. First, in true Sleuth-like fashion, Krause fell in love with unheralded Centenary center Robert Parish, who had been playing in virtual obscurity with the school on probation. Then Krause got into a "he-said" mess with legendary DePaul coach Ray Meyer, who claimed Krause offered him the chance to succeed Dick Motta as Bulls coach.

Krause denied this, but the ensuing furor caused public embarrassment for the franchise. After Krause, under ownership pressure, drafted Indiana All-American Scott May over Parish, Chairman Arthur Wirtz gave him a choice: resign or be fired.

Krause resigned, publicly humiliated in his hometown. Days later, a boyhood friend died of a heart attack while playing softball at 38.

"That was a low point," Krause says softly. "People think all the stuff with Michael and getting booed while we were winning was tough? That was nothing compared to that year."

Student of history

Jerry Krause enjoys visiting the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo.

In fact, he likes it so much that he has been there three times. Krause has been welcomed to the White House with Bulls championship teams by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, but he holds special regard for Truman.

"He was one of the most unpopular presidents in history when he left office," Krause says. "Fifteen years later, he was regarded as a genius."

The analogy is so obvious, it's shocking Krause acts surprised when asked the follow-up question: "Do you feel you relate to Truman in that aspect?"

Krause stammers before finally smiling.

"I supposedly have gotten smarter since I left, right?" he says.

Krause can surprise, though. His fishing interest has been well-documented, mostly in derisive fashion when that link formed the friendship with Tim Floyd that undercut Jackson. But Krause is also an avid reader who devours anything on Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt.

Krause also is sentimental, tearing up when recalling galvanizing moments from his 51-year career or talking about his grandchildren. He takes cruises and has attended plays in London with his wife, Thelma. He thinks it's important to have close friends outside of sports.

As Krause is detailing one friendship, a middle-aged man approaches his breakfast table. He identifies himself as Clark from Chicago.

"Mr. Krause," Clark says, "thanks for all you did. We were spoiled."

The exchange leads into a discussion of the dynasty, and suddenly Krause is repeating the line that so bothered Jordan.

"Here's a ticklish phrase: 'You've won six championships.' No, the organization won six NBA championships," Krause says. "I never have considered that I won anything. I say that and get ripped for it, but it's true. Organizations win championships. Organizations lose championships too.

"No player ever won six world championships. He was part of a team. Who put you there? Who helped develop you? Who scouted you? Who coached you? You played all nine positions in baseball? You played all five positions in basketball? Wow, you must be pretty good."

'A proud Chicagoan'