During the Michael Jordan era, the Chicago Bulls and Scottie Pippen almost parted ways several times. The superstar small forward was upset about his contract and the way general manager Jerry Krause treated him by shopping him behind his back.
The closest the Bulls came to trading Pippen was during the 1994-95 season. The Los Angeles Clippers put a helluva deal on the table, and the swingman was ready to play in LA. However, Pippen developed a bond with Bulls guard Ron Harper, who was eager to explain the shortcomings of the Clippers, a franchise he hated so much that he was suspended one game for likening his time there to a jail stint.
Jordan came out of retirement near the end of the 1994-95 season. After the Bulls lost to the Orlando Magic in the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals, His Airness talked about why he believed Chicago wouldn’t win a Pippen trade if Krause and Jerry Reinsdorf pulled the trigger on a deal.
Michael Jordan: I just don’t see how you would get equal value for a player like Scottie Pippen
Jordan may have been the biggest Pippen fan in the world during the ’90s. The five-time MVP believed his partner in crime was so good that there was no way the Bulls could win a Pippen trade, even if Hakeem Olajuwon came to Chicago.
“I’m not here to put ultimatums onto anyone,” Jordan said in 1995. “I just don’t see how you would get equal value for a player like Scottie Pippen, unless maybe for a Hakeem Olajuwon, and I’m not even sure you would want to do that. I don’t know what Jerry Reinsdorf has in store for Scottie Pippen, and you don’t know what Scottie Pippen is looking for. But whatever it is, I think he’s worth it. I think he should stay in Chicago.”
There’s a reason Jordan always spoke so glowingly about Pippen. After all, he never won a playoff series or championship without the seven-time All-Star.
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen had a winning percentage of .744
Jordan and Pippen appeared in 691 regular-season games together. They went 514-177, good for a stellar winning percentage of .744.
The Bulls won six championships from 1990-91 to 1997-98 and went undefeated in the Finals behind Jordan and Pippen. MJ averaged 30.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists during that stretch, while Pip put up 20.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game.
Pippen came close to leaving the Bulls numerous times, but he never got traded while Jordan was in Chicago. The Hall of Famers three-peated twice and were so dominant that they never played in a Game 7 in the Finals.
Jordan and Pippen eventually broke up in the summer of 1998 after the Bulls won their sixth title. Superman retired since Phil Jackson did the same, and Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets. During the 2002-03 season, Jordan played for the Washington Wizards, while Pippen was on the Portland Trail Blazers. On December 10, 2002, the Bulls legends played against each other for the first and only time, and it was undoubtedly a tough scene for Chicago fans to watch.
Blazers beat Wizards by 19
Behind 14 points, seven rebounds, and five assists from Pippen, the Blazers defeated the Wizards by a final score of 98-79. Jordan, who guarded Pippen on a few possessions, finished with 14 points, five rebounds, and one assist.
The 2002-03 Blazers lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2003 playoffs. Meanwhile, the Wizards failed to make the postseason. Neither Jordan nor Pippen reached the NBA Finals without each other, proving that they needed one another to succeed.
It’s a good thing that the Bulls never traded Pippen. Jordan might not have come out of retirement in 1995 if his pal wasn’t on the team, which would have prevented Chicago from winning three more titles in 1996, 1997, and 1998.