Much has been made about Scottie Pippen refusing to go into the end of Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals after Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson drew up the game-winning shot for Toni Kukoc. The Hall of Famer recently said Jackson’s decision to give Kukoc the shot over him was a “racial move.”
Pippen and Jackson won six championships together on the Bulls. However, more and more evidence shows that the former wasn’t always the biggest fan of the latter.
Scottie Pippen was upset about his diminished role in 1992 ECF vs. Cavs
Many fans forget that Pippen publicly vented his frustrations about his diminished role on offense in the 1992 Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, specifically in Game 4. The small forward only took 11 shots in the Bulls’ Game 4 loss and had zero points in the second half.
“I wasn’t much involved in the offense,” Pippen said in 1992. “I only took three shots (in the second half), and for me to score, I gotta have more than three shots. I gotta be able to play and push the ball.”
Pippen shot 5-of-11 from the field in Game 4. He finished with 13 points, and the Bulls lost by a final score of 99-85.
Although it may not have been a good look for Pippen to complain about his lack of touches, his venting ultimately paid off.
Scottie Pippen took 14 shots in Game 5 and 23 in Game 6
Pippen was much more involved offensively in Games 5 and 6 against the Cavs. He took 14 shots in Game 5 and finished with 14 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists. The All-Star swingman followed that up with 23 shots in Game 6 en route to 29 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, four steals, and four blocks, helping the Bulls win to advance to the NBA Finals.
Michael Jordan was the primary option on offense for the Bulls, but Jackson’s implementation of the triangle offense allowed everyone on the floor to touch the ball and get equal opportunities to score. For whatever reason, Pippen didn’t get enough touches for his liking in Game 4 against the Cavs, but things quickly changed after he openly talked about how he was upset.
The Bulls faced the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1992 Finals. Although Jordan won Finals MVP and took the most shots, Pippen’s all-around play was critical to Chicago’s success.
All-Star averaged 20.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists vs. Blazers
Pippen put up spectacular numbers in the 1992 Finals. On 15.5 shots per game, the All-NBA defender averaged 20.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 7.7 assists while shooting 48.4% from the field. The Bulls won the series in six games and captured their second consecutive championship.
Jackson evidently heard Pippen’s complaint about his lack of touches after the Bulls’ Game 4 loss to the Cavs and made sure to get his “Robin” more involved. Pippen averaged 16.3 shots and 21.0 points following his interview about his diminished role on offense.
Pippen is the second-best player in Bulls history. He may not have always said and acted accordingly, but his impact on winning was irreplaceable.