In Episode 7 of ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries, the popular 10-part documentary covered the Chicago Bulls’ 1994 playoff series against the New York Knicks. Michael Jordan was playing baseball for the Birmingham Barons, so Scottie Pippen was the Bulls’ best player and leader.
However, Pippen didn’t act like a leader in Game 3. He refused to go into the game on the final play after Phil Jackson drew up the game-winning shot for Toni Kukoc.
Since Jordan wasn’t on the Bulls, Pippen didn’t think The Last Dance would cover his decision not to enter the game, but the docuseries did, and the small forward was furious at MJ.
Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan talked about “1.8 seconds game”
In his memoir, Unguarded, Pippen wrote that he and Jordan talked about the “1.8 seconds game” being in The Last Dance. According to Pippen, Jordan — who had editorial control over the docuseries — apologized to him.
“I asked why he had allowed the 1.8 seconds game to make the final cut,” Pippen wrote. “He didn’t say much other than to apologize and acknowledge that if it were him, he, too, would be upset. I didn’t press any further. I knew it would do no good.”
After Pippen refused to go into Game 3, Jackson subbed in Pete Myers. Kukoc wound up making the game-winning shot at the buzzer, but everyone on the Bulls was upset at Pippen, who cried in the locker room after Bill Cartwright called him out in front of the team.
A day after Game 3, Jordan called Jackson to talk about the incident, and the five-time MVP knew Pippen would never escape it.
Michael Jordan on Scottie Pippen: “It’s always gonna come back to haunt him”
Pippen didn’t help himself by saying in The Last Dance that he wouldn’t change what he did in 1994 if he had the chance to do it all over again. Before the seven-time All-Star said that, here’s what Jordan had to say.
“It’s always gonna come back to haunt him at some point in some conversation,” Jordan said. “Pip knows better than that.”
The Bulls lost to the Knicks in seven games in the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals. Incredibly, Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson won three more championships together after that series. Remarkably, Pippen and Jackson were able to work together despite what happened in 1994.
However, their success together didn’t stop the former from destroying the latter in his book.
Pip: “The most humiliating part was Phil telling me I would throw the ball inbounds”
Pippen held nothing back while talking about Jackson and the “1.8 seconds game” in his book. The Hall of Famer wrote that it was disrespectful for the Zen Master to have him as the inbounds passer.
“There was one person I was angry with: Phil Jackson. Michael was gone. This was my team now, my chance to be the hero, and Phil was giving that chance to Toni Kukoc? Are you serious? Toni was a rookie with no rings,” Pippen wrote. “I was in my seventh year with three rings. And, by the way, in the MVP race that season, I finished third behind Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. The most humiliating part was Phil telling me I would throw the ball inbounds. At least when you’re on the floor, you can be a decoy. The Knicks would have put two defenders on me. Someone would have gotten a good look. By not going back in the game, I did the right thing.”
Jordan, Pippen, and Jackson captured six championships together and went undefeated in the Finals during the ’90s. Star players and coaches usually butt heads from time to time, and Pippen and Jackson did in 1994.
However, Jordan and Jackson were never on the wrong page, making their relationship unique in NBA history.