Scottie Pippen Claims Michael Jordan Is the Only Player in NBA History Who Could’ve Hit ‘The Shot’ Against the Cavs in the 1989 Playoffs: ‘I Can’t Think of Another Player in the History of Our Sport Who Would’ve Done What Michael Did’
Scottie Pippen has taken several shots at Michael Jordan since The Last Dance docuseries premiered in April 2020. His new memoir, Unguarded, is filled with Jordan slander.
However, the Chicago Bulls legend did write some good things about Jordan in his book. After all, Pippen won six championships with MJ during the ’90s and became a global celebrity thanks to the Bulls’ success. He may have felt disrespected by Jordan in The Last Dance, but Pippen knows how special of a player the UNC product was, which is why he praised Jordan for hitting “The Shot” against the Cleveland Cavaliers on May 7, 1989.
Michael Jordan hit game-winner vs. Cavs in 1989
The Bulls and Cavs faced each other in the first round of the 1989 playoffs in the best-of-five series. Chicago had a chance to win the series in Game 4, but it lost by three points, setting up a do-or-die Game 5 in Cleveland.
It appeared the Cavs were going to win Game 5. They had a 100-99 lead with 3.0 seconds left in regulation after Craig Ehlo hit a layup. The Bulls called a timeout, and head coach Doug Collins drew up a play for Jordan, who had 42 points.
Larry Nance and Ehlo tried their best to deny Jordan the inbounds pass, but Superman was able to get free and caught the ball at the 3-point line on the right-wing. He then took two dribbles to the middle, raised up over Ehlo, and hit a tough shot at the buzzer to give the Bulls a 101-100 victory.
Jordan finished with 44 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, while Pippen put up 13 points and 10 rebounds. Pip paid homage to His Airness for hitting the incredible shot in his book, but he also said the Bulls should have been celebrated more as a group for defeating the Cavs.
Scottie Pippen: Michael Jordan’s shot was amazing, but the series wasn’t all about him
While talking about “The Shot,” Pippen said he couldn’t think of another player in NBA history who could’ve done what Jordan did. However, he also wrote that the Bulls, as a team, should have earned more shine.
“I have nothing against ‘The Shot.’ How could I? Whenever they show it on TV, it brings back the most wonderful memories,” Pippen wrote. “Given the circumstances and what was at stake, I can’t think of another player in the history of our sport who would’ve done what Michael did. Yet when I think about that series, I don’t focus on Michael’s heroics. I think about what the Chicago Bulls accomplished as a group, it being the first hurdle we cleared to put us on the path to, eventually, winning a championship. Every team on the rise, to reach the promised land, needs to come through in a defining moment. When you no longer believe you are destined for greatness. You know it.”
Jordan averaged 39.8 points during the Cavs series, while Pippen put up 15.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. The latter should be proud of what his team accomplished, but the story of that series was obviously “The Shot.”
After beating the Cavs, the Bulls defeated the New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs and felt confident about their chances of winning a title. However, they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the conference finals in six games. Chicago fell to Detroit again in the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, and it looked like Jordan and Pippen would never get past the “Bad Boys.”
However, the Bulls legends finally beat their nemesis in 1991.
Bulls swept Pistons in 1991 conference finals
Behind Pippen and Jordan, the Bulls swept the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals to advance to their first NBA Finals. Pippen averaged 22.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists against the Pistons, while Jordan put up 29.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game.
The Bulls matched up against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 Finals. The Lakers won Game 1 in Chicago, but the Bulls rattled off four consecutive wins to capture their first championship. Jordan won his first of six Finals MVPs, but Pippen’s defense on Magic Johnson turned the series around.
Pippen bashes Jordan numerous times in his book. He was deeply hurt by The Last Dance and is using his memoir as his way of getting back at his former teammate. However, Jordan was so good that Pippen had no choice but to compliment him sometimes in the book.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference