Scottie Pippen was the best player on the Chicago Bulls during the 1993-94 season since Michael Jordan retired in the summer. The All-NBA small forward had a spectacular statistical season and led the Bulls to 55 wins.
However, Pippen was in the news for the wrong reasons multiple times in 1993-94. The same campaign in which he was at his very best on the court also revealed some of his very worst judgments.
Scottie Pippen got arrested and refused to go into a playoff game
In January 1994, Pippen was arrested for having a loaded gun in plain view in his car. While the charges were dropped because of an illegal search, it was not a good look for the Bulls’ leader.
A few months later, in Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks, Pippen refused to go into the match after Phil Jackson drew up the game-winning shot for Toni Kukoc instead of him. Kukoc hit the game-winner at the buzzer, but everyone on the Bulls was disgusted with Pippen. Bill Cartwright was brought to tears in a postgame speech that left the swingman both shaken and apologetic.
Despite getting arrested, being booed by Bulls fans during a home game in February, and getting destroyed for not going into the Knicks game, Pippen surprisingly enjoyed the 1993-94 season sans Jordan since he was the No. 1 option on the team and the spotlight was continuously on him.
Scottie Pippen: I had fun in 1993-94
Pippen told Chicago scribe Melissa Isaacson that he had a lot of fun in 1993-94 despite all the controversial things he did. The Hall of Famer knew he would have to take his game to another level since Jordan was gone and accepted the challenge.
“When Michael left, I looked at it as a challenge right away,” Pippen said. “I definitely knew it would be fun for me. It was fun, though. No matter what happened. The statements I made, me being caught with a gun, me not going back into the game. I was still able to enjoy it. I know how that sounds, but it’s true.”
The Bulls lost to the Knicks in the 1994 playoffs in seven games. However, Pippen’s 1993-94 regular season was undoubtedly his best individual campaign.
Bulls superstar won All-Star Game MVP and finished third in MVP voting
Pippen averaged 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.9 steals in 1993-94. He won the 1994 All-Star Game MVP and finished third in MVP voting behind Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson.
Jordan returned to the Bulls near the end of the 1994-95 season. He played in 17 games and helped Chicago defeat the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1995 playoffs. However, MJ and Pippen couldn’t get past the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference semifinals, losing the series in six games.
Pippen and Jordan used that loss to Orlando to come back stronger in 1995-96. They guided the Bulls to 72 wins and won the championship over the Seattle SuperSonics. The dynamic duo won two more titles together in 1997 and 1998 to finish their careers with six.