Chicago Bulls icon Scottie Pippen destroyed Michael Jordan for making The Last Dance docuseries mostly about him. The Hall of Famer is upset that the documentary glorified Jordan while not giving enough credit to him and his former teammates for the Bulls’ dynasty.
Jordan hasn’t responded to any of Pippen’s criticisms. However, one of his friends in the media did.
Rick Telander: Nobody would tune in to see an eight-part Scottie Pippen story
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander covered Jordan and Pippen during the ’90s. He was interviewed for The Last Dance and had a relationship with Jordan, who wrote a column with Telander for ESPN in 1998.
Telander basically ripped Pippen for complaining about The Last Dance in his latest long-form column for the Chicago Sun-Times. He stated Jordan is a living legend whose legacy won’t change despite Pippen’s controversial comments and that nobody would “tune in to see an eight-part Pippen story.”
“Yes, Jordan had that The Last Dance series that came out at the perfect time, while Americans were holed up in the first wave of COVID quarantining,” Telander wrote. “Was the ESPN film done from Jordan’s perspective? Absolutely. He had some control and producer’s credit. But without him signing off years before, and then with the series production, the 500 hours of archived NBA Entertainment footage of the Bulls’ final championship season never would have come to light. Players such as Luc Longley, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc and, yes, Pippen barely seem to exist in the Jordan swirl-o-rama. But that’s OK. We know they were there. No man wins a championship by himself. But Jordan’s charisma, beautiful physique, ballet skills and movie-star looks make him the focus of any light. Nobody would tune in to see an eight-part Pippen story.”
Telander didn’t stop there with his bashing of Pippen. In fact, he also wrote about Jordan’s ability to work a room and how Pippen had no charm whatsoever, which played a considerable role in MJ being more marketable than Pip.
Scottie Pippen was great, but he wasn’t Michael Jordan
Pippen is one of the greatest players in NBA history. Along with being a six-time champion, he made seven All-Star teams, 10 All-Defensive teams, and seven All-NBA teams. The Bulls wouldn’t have won six titles without Pippen.
However, he wasn’t the focal point of the Bulls. That was Jordan, who won five MVPs and 10 scoring titles during his storied run with Chicago. On top of his basketball skills, His Airness was also a hot commodity.
“On March 27, 1998, the Bulls played the Hawks in the Georgia Dome in front of 62,046 people, still the largest crowd in NBA history,” Telander wrote. “Jordan scored 34 points in an 89-74 Bulls win. Pippen? He didn’t dress. In their previous home game, the Hawks drew 14,592. One other thing. Jordan’s ability to work a room is legendary. Pippen’s is almost nonexistent. Maybe it’s a facade for Jordan, but it’s a valuable facade nonetheless. I watched Jordan charm rapt advertisers and wealthy fans at a private luncheon at the Hotel Nikko. I watched Pippen arrive late, isolate himself and leave early from a guest appearance at a downtown nightclub.”
Maybe Jordan shouldn’t have called Pippen “selfish” in The Last Dance while discussing the swingman’s decision to delay his ankle surgery on purpose in 1997-98 and request a trade or had the docuseries cover the 1994 playoff series against the New York Knicks in which Pippen refused to go into Game 3. However, not once did the six-time Finals MVP underrate Pippen as a player in the popular docuseries.
Michael Jordan on Pip: “He was a pleasure to play with”
Pippen was so angry at Jordan that he called Black Jesus “condescending” for what the one-time Defensive Player of the Year said in Episode 2 of The Last Dance. Jordan called Pippen his best teammate of all time and said he never won a ring without him.
“I would never be able to find a tandem, another support system, another partner in the game of basketball like Scottie Pippen,” Jordan said. “He was a pleasure to play with. He helped me so much in the way that I approached the game, the way I played the game. Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen. When everybody says, well, I won all these championships, but I didn’t win without Scottie Pippen and, you know, that’s why I consider him my best teammate of all time.”
How could Pippen watch Jordan say that and be annoyed? The media may have underrated him, but Jordan never did. After all, Superman admitted in 2008 that he probably wouldn’t have come out of retirement in 1995 if the Bulls had traded Pippen for Shawn Kemp.