Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen is not only one of the greatest players in NBA history, but he was also a superb teammate. Despite not going into a playoff game against the New York Knicks in 1994, Pippen was loved by his teammates because his value extended beyond the court.
Pippen was the perfect partner in crime for Michael Jordan, a demanding teammate who yelled and challenged players all the time. The small forward was more encouraging than MJ, and that always resonated with his teammates.
Bulls players loved Scottie Pippen
In Bill Wennington’s 2004 memoir, the center paid Pippen the ultimate compliment by talking about how great of a teammate the All-NBA swingman was.
“As a teammate, you could not ask for anyone better than Scottie, and that includes Michael,” Wennington wrote, via Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein. “He had taken the role of a leader on the floor, and he was defending his decisions to Phil in our film meeting.”
Jordan bludgeoned his teammates when they messed up because he demanded perfection. However, Pippen was the exact opposite.
John Paxson: Scottie Pippen was an encouraging type of teammate
John Paxson, who won three championships with Jordan and Pippen, said in 2010 that Pip “was very much an encouraging type of teammate” and created a good balance with His Airness.
“Scottie was the type of guy where if you missed two or three in a row, he was going to encourage you to keep shooting,” Paxson said. “He was going to tell you that I’m going to find you if you’re open. I think the balance of the way the two of them dealt with teammates was a really healthy thing for us.”
When Jordan retired, Pippen was forced to be the Bulls’ leader and best player in 1993-94. The seven-time All-Star flourished on the court and in the locker room, and Paxson will never forget how special the All-NBA defender was.
John Paxson: Scottie was phenomenal in 1993-94
Pippen played in 72 games in 1993-94. He averaged 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.9 steals and won the 1994 All-Star Game MVP.
Without Jordan by his side, Pippen proved to his teammates that he was more than capable of being Batman.
“He had a phenomenal year,” Paxson said. “I think the thing that stood out the most to me that year was that statistically, things didn’t change much for Scottie from what his years were with Michael. You could always pencil Scottie in for between 20 and 23 points a game, he would have the eight, nine rebounds, the five, six, seven assists. And it didn’t deviate [without Jordan] which to me that spoke volumes, and I think to those of us who were teammates, it showed what kind of a teammate he was. He wasn’t out there to try to prove to people that he could score 30. For Scottie it was about winning. And we won 55 games that year, mostly because of him.”
Even though the Bulls didn’t win the title in 1994, Pippen had a stellar season. He finished third in MVP voting and was a strong leader on the court and in the locker room.