During what turned to be Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen‘s last season with the Chicago Bulls in the 1997-98 season, there was plenty of internal infliction with the latter Hall of Famer with the organization. Things had reached a point where it had become a tumultuous standing between Pippen and the Bulls that led to the star forward to grow to wit’s end with his entire contract situation with the franchise. These issues came to light in ESPN’s “The Last Dance” with Jordan taking a shot at his former longtime teammate for how he handled the entire matter.
Scottie Pippen’s brewing frustration
In the months before the 1997-98 season, there was plenty of brewing frustration from Pippen about his contract situation.
Years before, the star forward has made what turned out to be a rash decision to sign a seven-year, $18 million deal. Pippen decided to head that route due to the desire to have financial security over the long haul.
However, it turned out that it made him vastly underpaid during the duration of that contract. He had moved to the sixth-highest paid player on the Bulls and the 122nd highest-paid player in the league heading into the 1997-98 season.
Pippen had grown frustrated with being vastly underpaid despite being one of the top talents in the league. It brewed over to him choosing to delay his foot surgery to miss the first part of that season.
That lead to Pippen to decide to take matters in his own hands by demanding a trade from the franchise before he returned from his surgery. He had gone to the extent to voice that he would not play another game for the franchise.
Michael Jordan thought Scottie Pippen was being selfish for trade request
It was a decision that put the Bulls in a tight spot as they were on the quest to earn their third straight NBA title and second three-peat of the decade.
Pippen’s trade request didn’t precisely boil over well for Jordan, as he revealed in the “The Last Dance” documentary that he thought his teammate was being selfish and not thinking about the team.
“I felt like Scottie was being selfish instead of his worth to the organization and the team.”
These are awfully strong comments from Jordan that don’t exactly look great in hindsight, given that he was making around $33 million for the 1997-98 campaign while Pippen was earning about $3 million. He was making roughly $28 million more than any other player on the roster that year.
Jordan didn’t get paid his value until well into the 1990s on one-year deals; his comments seem a bit hypocritical. Nonetheless, the entire situation didn’t rub Jordan the right way and could have easily altered the course of how that season unfolded.
Bulls kept Scottie Pippen, traded after 1997-98 season
The entire matter had become a troublesome situation as Pippen was set on a trade before he returned from his foot surgery.
Although he had desired to be moved, the Bulls retained him that season as he returned to the floor in early January that year. There were undoubtedly harsh feelings, but Pippen played a significant part in helping guide Chicago to a third straight title.
However, he finally got his wish after the end of the season that saw Jordan decide to retire and head coach Phil Jackson out of the door. Before the lockout-shortened 1998-99 campaign, Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Roy Rodgers and a second-round pick in the 200 NBA draft.
He also finally received his hefty payday, inking a five-year, $67.2 million deal with the Rockets. Pippen played just one season with Houston and was moved to the Portland Trail Blazers for the next four seasons before spending his last year in the 2003-04 campaign with the Bulls.