The Seattle SuperSonics drafted Scottie Pippen with the fifth overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. However, the small forward was traded to the Chicago Bulls on draft night, giving Michael Jordan the partner in crime he needed.
Pippen must have heard through his agent that the Bulls were interested in him because he told reporters before the draft he was excited about the prospect of playing in Chicago with Jordan.
Scottie Pippen: I would love to play with Michael Jordan
Before the night of the 1987 draft, Pippen told media members playing for the Bulls would be an excellent opportunity for him because of Jordan. Little did he know that Chicago would pull the trigger on a draft-night deal to get him.
“Playing with Michael Jordan would be a great opportunity for me,” Pippen said. “I would have someone around I could learn a lot from. I look up to him as a player and as a person, and that would make me a better player and person.”
The Bulls traded Olden Polynice and two draft picks to the SuperSonics for Pippen, who played his college basketball at the University of Central Arkansas. While it took some time for the swingman to get comfortable in Chicago, once he and Jordan got on the same page, the Bulls were nearly unbeatable.
Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan dominated the ’90s
Behind Pippen and Jordan, the Bulls won six championships in the ’90s and went 6-0 in the Finals. Chicago had a stellar regular-season record of 514-177 when Pip and MJ were in the lineup together.
The Bulls’ dynasty began during the 1990-91 season and ended following the 1997-98 campaign. Pippen averaged 20.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.0 assists during that stretch while shooting 48.4% from the field. He also made six All-Star teams and multiple All-NBA and All-Defensive teams.
Jordan won five regular-season MVPs and six Finals MVPs, so he naturally received most of the credit for the Bulls’ success. However, His Airness knows he wouldn’t be a six-time champion without Pippen.
MJ on Pip: I didn’t win without him
Jordan never got out of the first round of the playoffs until Pippen became his teammate. That’s why the Hall of Famer is Superman’s greatest teammate of all time.
“I would never be able to find a tandem, another support system, another partner in the game of basketball like Scottie Pippen,” Jordan said in ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries. “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. Everybody says, well, I won all these championships, but I didn’t win without Scottie Pippen, and that’s why I consider him my best teammate of all time.”
Pippen and Jordan pushed each other to be great. They were elite players on both ends of the floor and never took any shortcuts in practice. Even though Pippen and Jordan didn’t respect Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, he deserves credit for acquiring the former from the SuperSonics.
Without Pippen, Jordan doesn’t win six championships and six Finals MVPs. Both legends spoke about one another at their respective Hall of Fame speeches and will be linked forever in Chicago.