However, while the Chicago Bulls dynasty was taking place, Pippen was labeled as Jordan’s sidekick, and it didn’t sit well with the All-Star small forward since he was a stellar player in his own right. The Hall of Famer doesn’t hold any ill will toward Jordan for being called his sidekick, but he does know who to blame.
Scottie Pippen: Media to blame for being called Michael Jordan’s sidekick
Pippen bristled at being called Jordan’s sidekick during the ’90s. However, he knew it wasn’t MJ’s fault.
“That was the public perspective. That ain’t Michael’s fault. He wasn’t writing the articles, Pippen told Tyler R. Tynes of GQ. “But it was the cheerleaders that were behind Michael Jordan that were doing whatever they can to appease him, to get his vote. [Laughs.] They felt they could get close to him. Because [the media] were going through a bit of a frenzy, to some degree. They were cheerleaders. They were fans because they were going through something they’d never seen before: an iconic basketball [star] with global appeal. That was shocking to them.”
Many people forget that Jordan didn’t win his first playoff series until Pippen arrived in Chicago. That’s why His Airness said in the Last Dance docuseries, “Whenever they mention Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen.”
Pippen didn’t get the credit he deserved from the media, but Jordan and his Bulls teammates knew how valuable the versatile swingman was.
Scottie Pippen could do it all
It’s difficult to find a better all-around player than Pippen in NBA history. He could score, pass and defend at a high level and played a major role in helping the Bulls win six championships in an eight-year span during the ’90s.
During his first stint with the Bulls from 1987 to 1998, Pippen averaged 18.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.1 steals. Sure, Jordan led Chicago in scoring and was the best player in the world, but Pippen was the top defender and facilitator, and he showed during the 1993-94 season when Jordan played baseball that he could be the No. 1 option on a playoff team.
Pippen averaged 22.0 points, 8.7 boards, and 5.6 assists during the season Jordan played baseball. He led the Bulls to 55 wins, won the All-Star Game MVP, and finished third in MVP voting. Although his reputation took a major hit when he refused to go into Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Knicks, Pippen established himself as an all-time great sans Jordan.
Escaping Jordan’s shadow seems like an impossible task since he’s widely recognized as the greatest player in NBA history. Nevertheless, Pippen — who thought the Last Dance was more about Jordan than the Bulls — is trying his best to tell his side of the story.
Bulls legend’s new book will share a lot of details
Pippen’s memoir will discuss how he overcame poverty and tragedy to become one of the greatest 50 players in NBA history. It will also share some juicy details about his time with Jordan and the Bulls, so basketball fans are certainly looking forward to it.
“This is a story that needed to be told. People needed to know a little bit more about me and my career,” Pippen told GQ. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And I thought that this is the time. It’s always about the right timing for things. I think people need something to read and learn about. There’s a new generation that’s come about since my career in the nineties. So, I’m feeding them that literature of what life was like for me growing up as a young kid while telling them a lot about my career.”
Pippen will always be mentioned with Jordan when Bulls history is discussed. While he was a superstar player and deserved more praise and recognition, there was simply no way he could outshine MJ no matter how hard he tried.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.