In his memoir, Unguarded, Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen said he was a better teammate than Michael Jordan. MJ berated teammates when they made mistakes and challenged them to get on the same level as him, while Pippen patted guys on the back and was the much softer touch.
However, according to Scott Williams, Jordan has been the more reliable friend since the Bulls’ dynasty ended.
Scott Williams: Michael Jordan always texts back; Scottie Pippen doesn’t
During an interview with Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald, Williams said he stays in touch with Jordan but doesn’t always hear back from Pippen.
“I text him and he always responds,” Williams said. “I know he’s on the golf course or doing his business with his car or the Hornets. That I can appreciate. Like, ‘Hey, I see you’re going to be on Good Morning America to pump up The Last Dance. Are you up? You ready?’ Little stuff like that. He’s like, ‘Yeah, my brother, I’m up. I’m ready to go.’ Little things like that mean a lot. I know plenty of times I’ve texted Pip and it’s been radio silence. Or Amar’e Stoudemire, ‘Hey, happy birthday, STAT,’ and then crickets. So you tell me who’s been the better teammate over the years?”
Many of Jordan’s former teammates found him to be unnecessarily harsh and difficult to deal with. However, Williams believes only certain types of guys had issues with His Airness.
Scott Williams: If you were professional around Michael Jordan, you wouldn’t have any problems
Williams told McGraw that Jordan wasn’t a challenging teammate. The three-time champion said that if players remained professional, worked hard in practice, and played the right way during games, Jordan was easy to get along with.
“He wasn’t a challenging teammate,” Williams said. “I played with challenging teammates. They didn’t want to come to practice and work and weren’t professional. Those were challenges. I thought if you were professional around MJ and you came to bring it every day and work hard and not back down in games and give it your all — you wouldn’t have any problems with Mike. You just wouldn’t. I think guys that just wanted to live the NBA lifestyle, wanted the fame and the money and the cars and the clothes and the women. You were going to have a problem with Mike, absolutely 100%. He wasn’t going to stand for that.”
Pippen was nicer to his teammates than Jordan. In his book, the two-time gold medalist wrote: “We didn’t win six championships because he got on guys. We won in spite of his getting on guys. We won because we played team basketball.”
While Pippen is correct, Jordan earned the right to challenge teammates and be carnivorous since he never asked guys to do things he didn’t do.
MJ: I never asked a teammate to do something that I didn’t do
Jordan punched Steve Kerr and Will Perdue and refused to pass the ball to certain players if he didn’t think they were ready for the momentum. These are examples of Black Jesus crossing the line as a teammate.
However, as Jordan explained in The Last Dance, winning and leadership have a price, and he wasn’t afraid to go to deep lengths to push his teammates to be great. Pippen may not have liked it, but the results were good for everyone.
“I pulled people along when they didn’t wanna be pulled,” Jordan said. “I challenged people when they didn’t wanna be challenged, and I earned that right because my teammates came after me. They didn’t endure all the things that I endured. Once you join the team, you live at a certain standard that I play the game, and I wasn’t gonna take anything less.
“Now, if that means I had to go in and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my teammates, the one thing about Michael Jordan was he never asked me to do something that he didn’t f****** do. When people see this, they gonna say, ‘Well, he wasn’t really a nice guy. He may have been a tyrant.’ Well, that’s you because you never won anything. I wanted to win, but I wanted them to win and be a part of that as well.
“Look, I don’t have to do this. I’m only doing it because it is who I am. That’s how I played the game. That was my mentality. If you don’t wanna play that way, don’t play that way.”
Jordan may have been a demanding teammate, but it sounds like he’s a nicer guy than Pippen off the court. After all, Pippen has ignored some of Williams’ texts and had no sympathy for a crying John Paxson who called him to apologize for how he treated him when he was the Bulls’ vice president.