Jerry Reinsdorf is Clearly the One to Blame for Bulls Dynasty Breaking Up

Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf (right) with General Manager Jerry Krause
Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf (right) with General Manager Jerry Krause / JOHN ZICH/Getty Images

The wild ride of "The Last Dance" has reached its end. The ESPN documentary series took a deep dive into Michael Jordan's legacy with the Chicago Bulls that culminated with a second three-peat in the 1997-98 NBA season. But why did such a prolific dynasty have to end when it did? The documentary's conclusion gives us an illuminating answer.

While much of the documentary is very intent on avoiding identifying any particular villain, showing many sides of the complex organization, Jerry Reinsdorf emerges as one to blame in the final episode. As despite all the wear and tear of Championship runs and of being a star like Michael Jordan, the opportunity to return again was almost a reality.

That's right. Though GM Jerry Krause was frequently cast as the villain, Reinsdorf was ultimately the one who held the financial reins for the Bulls, and it became very clear that the biggest reason the team collapsed instead of going for a seventh title was because Reinsdorf was unwilling to do all things necessary to keep the group together. Instead, Jordan retired for a second time, Scottie Pippen and Stever Kerr were traded, Dennis Rodman was released, and that was that.

In the documentary's first handful of episodes, Krause was placed in the firing line. The man who declared that Phil Jackson would not be back in 1998-99 was an easy target, especially considering that he passed away in 2017 and was unable to speak in his own defense. But just as so much of "The Last Dance" has done, there was much more to the story than just that.

Jordan made it clear that he would have come back on a one-year contract if the offer was there and the rest of the core team, including Jackson, could return. Reinsdorf opted to move toward a rebuild.

Krause's frayed personal relationships or Reinsdorf's financial hesitations both played a role in the Bulls dynasty coming to an end, but "The Last Dance" brought the circumstances into a clearer focus. And when Reinsdorf's thought process emerged in the documentary's final episodes, it is only natural that he receives full criticism for not finding a way to run things back for a run at the championship in '99.