Jerry Reinsdorf will be enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. At first glance, his résumé looks unassailable. Reinsdorf won six titles as the owner of the Chicago Bulls, and became the third owner ever to win a championship in two of the four major American sports when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005.
Yet with his induction into the Hall of Fame, Reinsdorf has achieved his most striking accomplishment yet: reaching basketball’s highest honor despite being far more passionate about a different sport. He’s even pictured holding the World Series trophy in the Hall of Fame’s promotional package.
The Hall of Fame is going all-out this year. pic.twitter.com/iDWRb5OoaH— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) September 8, 2016
Reinsdorf purchased the White Sox in 1981 shortly after cashing out on his real estate investment company. He bought the Bulls four years later for only $16 million, and his timing couldn’t have been better. The Bulls drafted a rookie guard named Michael Jordan the year before, and the rest is history.
Yet throughout his career, Reinsdorf has freely admitted his preference for baseball over the sport that ultimately enshrined him in its Hall of Fame. Here are five examples:
"Jerry Reinsdorf has always said that he'd trade all his Bulls championship rings for one World Series ring. I don't know if he really would, but everyone who works here knows this: that what he wants most in his professional life is to win the World Series."
This quote appeared in a Peter Gammons column for ESPN in 2000. While the genesis of the first sentence appears to be unknown, it is perhaps the most famous thing Reinsdorf has ever (supposedly) said. Nothing has defined his Bulls ownership quite like the idea that he would trade all six NBA championships for a single World Series title.
Reinsdorf now regrets the remark and says he only made it because he believed the public thought he only cared about the Bulls. Of course, the White Sox did not need to trade any of the Bulls championships to win it all in 2005. A half-drunk Mark Buehrle and some classic Geoff Blum magic was more than enough.
Asked before the game to compare the Bulls titles to a potential Sox championship, Reinsdorf didn't hesitate. "It's different. This is bigger. Basketball and Jordan were as big as basketball could get. I don't think the NBA Finals are huge normally, but with Jordan they were. But this is bigger. This gets more attention, more excitement. This is baseball."
Reinsdorf said this after the White Sox’s World Series parade. Maybe all of the Bulls’ Grant Park celebrations got boring after a while.
"In my mind, there's baseball, and then there are all the other sports," the Sox chairman said Tuesday from his winter home in Arizona. "That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the NBA titles, but . . . ."
From January 1997, six months after the Bulls finished the greatest season in NBA history.
Reinsdorf choked up, hugged Konerko, then turned away. Later, Reinsdorf told the audience that after 25 years of team ownership, the celebration made everything worthwhile.
"I never imagined it could be so good," he said. "But this is absolutely the most fantastic day of my life."
Receiving the ball, he said, was "the most emotional moment of my life."
Reinsdorf said this after Paul Konerko gave him the ball that the White Sox used to record the final out of the 2005 World Series. And to think, the only things Jordan ever gave him were billions of dollars in capital appreciation and a lifetime of credibility.
"Basketball is a game. Baseball is a religion. Baseball is American"
Reinsdorf said this in 2012, and the White Sox tweeted the quote. They quickly deleted it, but not before it could live on forever in manual RT form.
Is the Bulls account going to RT this? RT @whitesox:"Basketball is a game. Baseball is a religion. Baseball is American." - Jerry Reinsdorf— James Fegan (@JRFegan) July 24, 2012
Basketball might only be a game, but it’s one that’s giving Reinsdorf its highest honor. Not bad for a baseball fan.