While Jordan got most of the praise for the Bulls’ success since he was the best player in the world, Pippen was a superstar in his own right, so much so that MJ would have paid money to watch his partner in crime play.
Michael Jordan on Scottie Pippen: At times, he amazes me
SLAM Magazine asked Jordan in 1996 which player he would pay money to watch play, and His Airness picked Pippen.
“I would pay to see Scottie Pippen play,” Jordan said. “I think he is the ultimate team player. A guy that can score, pass, rebound and play defense. I also think he’s great to have in the locker room. We have been closer this year, and I have really enjoyed that. Scottie does a lot of things on the court that amaze me. He moves really well and has those long arms and legs, and basically has no weaknesses. Also, he’s matured and is confident of his role on this team. At times, he amazes me.”
There’s a reason Jordan has always spoken so highly of Pippen. After all, the five-time regular-season MVP owes a lot of his success to the versatile small forward.
Michael Jordan never won a playoff series without Scottie Pippen
Jordan never got out of the first round of the playoffs with the Bulls until Pippen got to Chicago. The 10-time scoring champion lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1985 playoffs and the Boston Celtics in 1986 and 1987.
In Pippen’s first season with the Bulls, Chicago defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 1988 playoffs. As a duo, Jordan and Pippen never failed to get out of the first round. While they had problems getting past the Detroit Pistons in 1988, 1989, and 1990, it was only a matter of time until the All-Stars figured out how to beat their arch-nemesis.
In the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls swept the Pistons to reach their first NBA Finals. Behind Jordan and Pippen, Chicago defeated Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals to become the best team in the NBA, and that was only the beginning of its dominance.
MJ and Scottie won six rings in an eight-year span
From 1991 to 1998, the Bulls won six titles. Jordan and Pippen had a stranglehold on the entire NBA, and many believe they could have won eight rings in a row had the former not retired in 1993 to play baseball.
In 691 games with Pippen, Jordan averaged 31.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. Meanwhile, Pippen averaged 17.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists alongside Jordan. The Bulls had a stellar record of 514-177 when their two superstars played.
Both Jordan and Pippen are in the Hall of Fame and have their jerseys hanging in the rafters at the United Center. The former said in The Last Dance docuseries that the latter is his best teammate of all time, and it’s evident by his statement from 1996 that Black Jesus was always in Pippen’s corner.