Thursday, January 27 2022
Scottie Pippen
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To say Scottie Pippen wasn’t pleased with the Michael Jordan tribute documentary otherwise known as The Last Dance, from the way he was portrayed as “nothing more than a prop” to the fact that Jordan made $10 million while Pippen and his former Bulls teammates “didn’t earn a dime,” would be an understatement. 

Pippen’s memoir “Unguarded” was released this week. 

And suffice it to say, he didn’t hold much back. 

Pippen launched an immediate attack on Jordan, whom he calls a hypocrite, in the Prologue, and the first thing that really jumped out at me was his saying he was “a much better teammate than Michael ever was.”

“In the doc, Michael attempted to justify the occasions in which he berated a teammate in front of the group. He felt these guys needed to develop the toughest to get past the the NBA’s more physical teams. Seeing again how poorly Michael treated his teammates, I cringed, as I did back then. 

“Michael was wrong. We didn’t win six championships because he got on guys. We won in spite of his getting on guys. We won because we played team basketball, which hadn’t been the case my first two seasons, when Doug Collins was our coach. That’s what was special about playing for the Bulls: the camaraderie we established with one another, not that we felt blessed to be on the same team with the immortal Michael Jordan. 

“I was a much better teammate that Michael ever was. Ask anyone who played with the two of us. I was always there with a pat on the back or an encouraging word, especially after he put someone down for one reason or another. I helped the others to believe in and stop doubting themselves.”

It’s hard for me, or anyone who wasn’t actually in the situation, to say whether Jordan’s  … well, let’s just say it … bullying tactics actually did raise the level of his teammates’ play. We know different people are motivated different ways, and yes, there’s a  case to be made that you have to push some people, if not most people, to get the absolute best out of them. 

But Jordan did a little more than push. And what I always find interesting is that when athletes treat their peers this way and it doesn’t lead to a championship, they’re labeled as bad teammates. Locker-room cancers. There are a lot more of those guys than there are Michael Jordans, who get glorified as some kind of supernatural leader for basically being a jerk. 

Ask yourself: If everything and everyone on the Bulls was the same — same players, coaches, triangle offense, the whole deal — only Jordan didn’t make a habit of scolding his teammates, would the Bulls not have won those championships? Was all the mental battering really necessary? 

Pippen doesn’t think so. And he was there. 

I’m just getting into the book, and honestly, you’re going to be seeing a lot of stories like this. Pippen says something on just about every page that could make a headline. We already covered Pippen borderline laughing off Jordan’s famous “Flu Game,” saying the back injury with which he played in the 1998 NBA Finals should’ve been a bigger deal



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