In 1987, the Chicago Bulls made a historic draft-night trade with the Seattle SuperSonics, getting Michael Jordan the help he needed. They traded for Scottie Pippen after the SuperSonics drafted the small forward with the fifth overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft.
Jordan and Pippen established themselves as arguably the greatest duo in NBA history, guiding the Bulls to six championships in the ’90s. In the 1996 Finals, Chicago matched up against the SuperSonics and won the series in six games over Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. Many Seattle fans wondered how the series would have gone if Pippen was on their side instead of Jordan’s.
When Dan Patrick brought up that scenario with Pippen during their recent interview on the Dan Patrick Show, the Bulls legend took a jab at Jordan.
Scottie Pippen doesn’t think Michael Jordan makes it to ’96 Finals if SuperSonics kept him
When Patrick asked Pippen how fun it would have been to face Jordan and the Bulls in the ’96 Finals had the SuperSonics not traded him in 1987, the NBA icon said MJ wouldn’t have made it that far without him.
“I don’t know if he (Jordan) would have made it that far,” Pippen said. “If you know what I mean. I’m just saying.”
Jordan didn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs until Pippen got to Chicago. He lost in the first round three straight times to the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics before the Bulls traded for Pippen.
It seems as if Pippen is tired of being labeled as Jordan’s sidekick and wants more credit for the Bulls’ dynasty. The seven-time All-Star also dispelled the notion that he and Jordan were close friends off the court, telling Patrick that they were “excellent teammates,” and that’s about it.
It has been strange to hear Pippen talk so negatively about Jordan lately, especially when you consider how lethal they were together.
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were a stellar duo
Jordan and Pippen only lost four playoff series together and never failed to get out of the first round. They also went 6-0 in the Finals and never had to play in a Game 7 in the championship round.
With Pippen as his teammate, Jordan averaged 31.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.5 assists from 1987-88 to 1997-98. He didn’t play in the NBA during the 1993-94 season because he played minor league baseball for the Birmingham Barons. The one season Pippen didn’t have Jordan, he averaged 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists and established himself as an MVP-caliber player.
The Bulls defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, SuperSonics, and Utah Jazz (twice) for their six championships. Jordan won all six Finals MVPs, but Pippen doesn’t want people to forget how valuable he was, which is probably why he took those shots at MJ during the Patrick interview.
While it’s true that Jordan never won anything without Pippen, it’s sad to see the latter act so bitter about his glory years in Chicago. It’s safe to assume his memoir, which comes out in November, will have transparent takes on what it was really like playing with Jordan.
This book is probably going to be controversial
With the help of author Michael Arkush, Pippen’s memoir will be released on November 16, 2021. Per the Simon & Schuster information page, Pippen will discuss how he cringed at being labeled Jordan’s sidekick and why he was the real leader of the Bulls locker room.
This book will probably be very controversial and have juicy details about Jordan, Phil Jackson, and Dennis Rodman. The Last Dance docuseries didn’t always portray Pippen in a positive light, so it’s safe to assume this book will do the same with Jordan.
Jordan doesn’t do interviews, so he hasn’t responded to any of Pippen’s recent comments about him and Jackson. It would be interesting, though, to hear what he thinks about his former teammate’s thoughts.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.