Draymond Green has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the NBA’s most outspoken players. Most recently, the feisty forward showed no fear in sticking up for Scottie Pippen and his paltry Chicago Bulls salaries in a video interview on Uninterrupted’s “WRTS: The After Party”. And by defending Pippen, he also happened to take a shot at the core figure in “The Last Dance” docuseries. Let’s just say Draymond Green has a problem with how Michael Jordan refused to support his Hall of Fame teammate.
Scottie Pippen was vastly underpaid with the Bulls
To better understand the context of Green’s criticism, one must take a deeper dive into Scottie Pippen’s surprisingly underwhelming NBA earnings. Despite operating as the Robin to Jordan’s Batman, the versatile forward turned out to be more than a bargain for the Bulls. The seven-time NBA All-Star didn’t even crack Chicago’s top-five highest-earners in the 1997-98 season that’s been popularized in the new docuseries.
According to Spotrac, Pippen made just six figures in his first four seasons with the Bulls. While one could argue that he had yet to reach his peak, there’s simply no reasonable explanation as to why he earned so little during his prime. During the Bulls’ dynastic run, Pippen’s best salary came in 1992-93 when he pulled in just north of $3.4 million. He routinely made less than $3 million per season despite developing into one of the NBA’s best all-around players.
Bulls general manager Jerry Krause somehow managed to vastly underpay Pippen while Michael Jordan earned more than 10 times his teammate’s salary. Of course, that came after Jordan himself earned less than $4 million per year in the earlier portion of the decade. However, during Chicago’s second three-peat run, Jordan earned more than $30 million per year from 1996-98 before retiring for the second time.
Michael Jordan refused to support his Bulls teammate
Though Michael Jordan famously stood up for Phil Jackson by telling Jerry Krause that he wouldn’t play if Jackson wasn’t his coach, he didn’t do the same for Scottie Pippen. Of course, Jordan’s running mate brought some of the heat on himself as viewers saw in the opening episodes of “The Last Dance”. The criminally-underpaid star rightfully felt fed up with how Chicago handled his contract situation. To compound the problem, he suffered a serious ankle injury in the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals that would require surgery.
Although he battled through the ailment, Pippen pulled a prima donna move and delayed his surgery as a way to get back at Krause. Because of that decision, he didn’t return to action until the middle of the 1998 season. Unfortunately for Pippen, he received no support from His Airness. On the contrary, Jordan deemed the delay as selfish—an ironic comment from someone who retired from the Bulls to play baseball during his prime.
Draymond Green didn’t hold back in criticizing Jordan
As part of a star-studded dynasty himself, Draymond Green has firsthand experience dealing with the pressures of egos and bloated salaries. A team-first type of player, Green still sympathized with Pippen for his decision to hold off on the surgery as a way to stand his ground. After years of underwhelming paychecks, it seemed like Pippen didn’t have many options to make his displeasure known, which Green commented on in the interview:
“Me as a teammate, if Scottie Pippen does that, I’m not going to be mad at Pip,” Green said. “Because I understand what you’re doing, and at the end of the day, I’m rolling with you. Because when it all boils down to it, clearly that [Bulls] organization showed they’re going to take care of themselves. They’re not going to take care of [the players].
Besides defending Pippen, Green showed some serious cajones by ripping Jordan for not doing the same. After all, the greatest player in NBA history should have had more than enough power in the Bulls organization to help out his talented teammate.
“And so I was kind of a little disappointed when Mike, still to this day, is like ‘Scottie was wrong.’ Like, no. You roll with your dogs, because they ride with you. … [Mike’s] making 36 million dollars, and [Pippen’s] making two [million], yet you’re saying when you mention [Michael Jordan’s] name there’s no way you can not mention Scottie Pippen’s name? And he’s just supposed to sit there? That don’t make sense. It’s very easy to say, like, ‘no, you should be good’ [when] your house is huge, you got 36 million dollars coming in, and this man got two [million]. That’s crazy.”
Ultimately, Pippen and Jordan still won six NBA championships together. Both made hundreds of millions on and off the court. But Draymond Green’s open criticism of the greatest player in NBA history reveals that Michael Jordan probably could have done more to help Scottie Pippen get the financial respect he deserved.