Bulls' Reinsdorf a winner on and off the court
SportsBusinessDaily.com: Through titles, tiffs and tears, Reinsdorf is the same man
WhiteSox.com: Reinsdorf's impact on community draws high honor
Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Sports Business Awards in New York City on Wednesday night.
“Those of us in team sports are very lucky. Very, very lucky,” Reinsdorf told those on hand at the awards dinner. “Not only because we don’t have real jobs, but because we’re able to bring joy to so many people and because we can make the world a better place.”
Reinsdorf, who is also Chairman of the Chicago White Sox, will always be associated with winning. Under his leadership, the Bulls won six NBA championships in a span of eight years and the White Sox claimed the 2005 World Series. But he doesn’t take any of it for granted and recognizes the responsibilities that come with being in his position.
“While winning is wonderful, you can’t do it very often,” said Reinsdorf, according to the White Sox website. “And what I’m really most proud of being in sports is the wonderful things that sports teams do for their community. [MLB Commissioner] Bud Selig often says that baseball is a social institution and has great responsibilities. He constantly exhorts us to take that responsibility seriously. [NBA Commissioner] David Stern has made the NBA a world-class doer of good things. Both of my clubs have given millions of dollars to worthy causes and have numerous programs of which I’m extremely proud.”
Indeed, as Reinsdorf pointed out, Bulls players made nearly 250 charitable appearances in the last year. Former players made another 120 appearances. In addition, 13,000 people were part of the Bulls’ community events last year.
(Photo via SportsBusiness Journal and Daily/@SBJSBD)
Part of Wednesday evening’s festivities included a tribute video produced by MLB Productions with assistance from the Bulls and White Sox. In that video, both Selig and Stern praised Reinsdorf and his teams for giving back to the community.
“Did he make his community a better place to live?” Selig asked, rhetorically. “There can’t be anybody left in Chicago who thinks that he didn’t make that city a better place to live.”
Stern agreed, saying, “His legacy in the sports world is going to start with his championships. That’s just the way people focus. But the more important legacy is the social responsibility one, which is being a community asset, including diversity, aggressiveness and inclusion that he has come to be known for.”
Three of the men who played key roles in bringing the six Bulls’ World Championships to Chicago during the 1990s – Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson – also shared their thoughts in the tribute video on Reinsdorf’s accomplishments.
“He was the greatest owner in basketball,” said Jackson, who joined the Bulls as an assistant coach in 1987 and served as head coach from 1989 to 1998. “He was a guy that let the team be who it was. He was an advisor, a guy that was looking for a championship.”
Pippen, who works for the Bulls as Senior Advisor to President and COO Michael Reinsdorf, recalled playing for an owner who wanted to win as much as he did.
“I saw a guy that was very driven,” said Pippen. “He was driven to the fact that he wanted to make this city proud.”
And Jordan, now a counterpart of Reinsdorf’s as majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, referred back to his playing days to say he appreciated the job Reinsdorf did.
“I respected who he was. I respected his leadership as the owner of the team,” said Jordan. “I gave it my all each and every day because of that respect. And I have to give a bunch of credit to Jerry. The way that he runs his business is baseball and basketball.”
His strong core values have helped Reinsdorf succeed on and off the court, leading to accolades like the one he received last night.
“I've always worked hard, and I’ve tried to be totally honest,” said Reinsdorf. “Honesty, luck and the help of others has played a much larger part in my success than my own efforts.”