Scottie Pippen Felt the Last Dance Docuseries Shouldn’t Have Covered the ’94 Playoff Series Against the Knicks Where He Refused to Go Into Game 3 on the Final Play: ‘Michael Jordan Wasn’t a Part of That Team’
Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen was not happy with Michael Jordan after The Last Dance docuseries came out in April 2020. The NBA icon felt belittled and disrespected by the person he won six championships with since Jordan had editorial control over the docuseries and called Pippen “selfish” when the small forward opted to undergo ankle surgery during the 1997-98 season instead of the offseason and requested a trade.
Pippen is also furious that the docuseries covered the Bulls’ 1994 playoff series against the New York Knicks, where he refused to go into Game 3 on the final play.
Scottie Pippen: “The 1.8 seconds should have never been in the documentary”
During an interview on the Today Show, Pippen said The Last Dance should not have discussed what happened on May 13, 1994. Phil Jackson drew up a game-winning shot for Toni Kukoc in Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Knicks, and Pippen was so angry that he refused to go into the game since he thought he should have been taking the last shot.
Jordan wasn’t on the Bulls during the 1993-94 season. Since The Last Dance was all about glorifying MJ and putting him on a pedestal, Pippen felt the docuseries shouldn’t have shown his lowlight.
“The 1.8 seconds should have never been in the documentary,” Pippen said. “Michael Jordan wasn’t a part of that team. He didn’t talk about the fact that he left the team right before training camp. None of that was in the documentary.”
In The Last Dance, Pippen said if he had a chance to do it all over again, he would still sit out the final play against the Knicks in 1994 since Jackson called Kukoc’s number instead of his. The seven-time All-Star went into great detail about why he was so unsettled with Jackson in his book.
Scottie Pippen: “There was one person I was angry with: Phil Jackson”
In his book, Pippen writes that Jackson wanted him to throw the ball inbounds to Kukoc. He was enraged since he was the best player on the Bulls, and Jackson wasn’t allowing him to have his star moment.
“There was one person I was angry with: Phil Jackson. Michael was gone. This was my team now, my chance to be the hero, and Phil was giving that chance to Toni Kukoc? Are you serious? Toni was a rookie with no rings,” Pippen writes. “I was in my seventh year with three rings. And, by the way, in the MVP race that season, I finished third behind Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. The most humiliating part was Phil telling me I would throw the ball inbounds. At least when you’re on the floor, you can be a decoy. The Knicks would have put two defenders on me. Someone would have gotten a good look. By not going back in the game, I did the right thing not just for myself and my pride. Also for the players who would come after me. Who, one day, might very well find themselves in the same position.”
Kukoc made the game-winning shot against the Knicks at the buzzer. However, the Bulls locker room was in disarray because of what Pippen did. Bill Cartwright called out Pip for not going into the game and started crying. It was a challenging moment for Pippen, who didn’t act like a proper leader.
The Bulls lost to the Knicks in seven games in 1994. Pippen tried to get traded in 1994-95 and was almost dealt to the Seattle SuperSonics for Shawn Kemp. However, Seattle backed out of the trade at the last minute, which ended up being good for the Bulls since Jordan told J.A. Adande of ESPN in 2008 that he probably wouldn’t have come out of retirement in 1995 if Pippen wasn’t on the team.
Michael Jordan felt comfortable with Pip
During All-Star Weekend in 2008, Jordan told Adande he was comfortable with Pippen and probably would have remained retired in 1995 if the Bulls traded for Kemp.
“Probably not,” Jordan said. “I could have played with Shawn, but I wouldn’t have been as comfortable as I was with Scottie.”
Jordan and Pippen won six championships together and three-peated twice in the ’90s. They never lost in the Finals and are widely viewed as the greatest duo in NBA history. They may not be friends now after The Last Dance docuseries and Pippen’s book, but it doesn’t alter the success they had together in the ’90s.