Jerry Krause, a longtime Chicago Bulls general manager, died Tuesday afternoon at the age of 77, the team confirmed.

Ex-Bulls GM Jerry Krause Dies At 77; Tributes

Krause, who was the Bulls’ GM from 1985 to 2003, helped lead the franchise to six titles in eight years during the Michael Jordan era. He won the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award following the 1987-88 and 1995-96 seasons.

Throughout his tenure in Chicago, Krause— a Windy City native— brought in several Bulls legends along with Jordan: Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson. 

“The news of Jerry Krause’s death is a sad day for the Chicago Bulls and the entire NBA community,” Jackson, who is now president of the New York Knicks, said in a statement. “He was a man determined to create a winning team in Chicago — his hometown. Jerry was known as ‘The Sleuth’ for his secrecy, but it was no secret that he built the dynasty in Chicago. We, who were part of his vision in that run, remember him today.”

Prior to joining the Bulls organization, Krause was a scout for several MLB and NBA teams. He left the Bulls in 2003, citing health reasons, and returned to baseball, where he worked with multiple organizations, including the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks up until his retirement last year.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also praised Krause.

“Jerry Krause was a homegrown legend who built a dynasty recognized around the world,” Emanuel said. “He will forever be remembered as the architect of one of the most dynamic eras in Chicago sports history, who made the Bulls synonymous with Chicago and brought basketball to the world stage. Amy and my thoughts and prayers are with the Krause family and all the fans across the city and around the world who are mourning his loss.”

The Chicago Tribune reported that Krause had battled severe health problems, including osteomyelitis, which is a bone infection. He also suffered from heart issues that required several surgeries, as well as sleep apnea.

“Jerry was one of the hardest working guys I have ever been around, and he was one of the best talent evaluators ever,” Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who originally hired Krause, stated. “Jerry played an integral role in our run of six championships in eight years. He truly was the architect of all our great teams in the ’90s. I would not have been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame if it were not for Jerry. We will miss him tremendously, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his wife Thelma and the Krause family.”

Krause was a finalist to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year as a contributor.

“I owe a lot to Jerry,” said Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson, who played under Krause from 1985-1994. “If it weren’t for him bringing me to Chicago in 1985, I probably never would have been a Bull. He had a great eye for talent, and his ability to build a team is unrivaled. He’s one of the best the league has ever seen. We’re keeping Thelma and his family in our thoughts and prayers.”

Several former Bulls players, including Jordan and Pippen, paid tribute to Krause upon learning of his death.

“Jerry was key figure in the Bulls’ dynasty and meant so much to the Bulls, White Sox and city of Chicago,” Jordan said in a statement. “My heart goes out to his wife, Thelma, his family and friends.”

Jordan famously feuded with Krause over certain issues, and explained this skirmish by saying, “I’m the only one who has told him no. … This kid has had his butt kissed by everyone in the world except his parents and me,” Krause told SI. “If we’d listened to him, we’d have (former UNC guard) Buzz Peterson on the team!

“My goal is not to be his friend. My goal is to win titles.”

In an interview with Sports Illustrated in 1993, Jordan stated: “The trade of (Charles) Oakley was good, and the best thing he did was to get (Scottie) Pippen and (Horace) Grant. His claim to fame is that he drafted Earl Monroe for the Bullets. And I say to him ‘What pick was that?’ He says ‘Two.’ And I say ‘Hell! Earl Monroe was a real secret, huh! If you hadn’t taken him, he’d have gone third!’”

Pippen, meanwhile, paid homage to Krause in five tweets on Tuesday night in which he expressed, among other things, that he was “forever grateful.”

Clearly, Krause was beloved by many Bulls members and Chicagoans. Krause was honored with a moment of silence before the Bulls’ road loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.

10 Jun 1997: General manager Jerry Krause of the Chicago Bulls speaks to reporters during a press conference before a playoff game against the Utah Jazz at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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