Tuesday, January 25 2022

It’s safe to say that Scottie Pippen isn’t happy with the way he and his teammates were portrayed in “The Last Dance,” the ESPN documentary about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls that released last year. 

In his upcoming memoir, “Unguarded,” Pippen discusses the documentary and why it rubbed him the wrong way. The six-time champion made it clear that he thinks the documentary went out of its way to glorify Jordan and his accomplishments while underselling the importance of Pippen and his fellow running mates to Chicago’s success. This is often the way that the ’90’s Bulls are portrayed publicly — as Michael and the others — but to have Jordan himself present the story in that manner was especially upsetting to Pippen. 

Here’s an excerpt from Pippen’s memoir, via GQ

The final two episodes aired on May 17. Similar to the previous eight, they glorified Michael Jordan while not giving nearly enough praise to me and my proud teammates. Michael deserved a large portion of the blame. The producers had granted him editorial control of the final product. The doc couldn’t have been released otherwise. He was the leading man and the director. … Except Michael was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior.

Even in the second episode, which focused for a while on my difficult upbringing and unlikely path to the NBA, the narrative returned to MJ and his determination to win. I was nothing more than a prop. His “best teammate of all time,” he called me. He couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried. 

Each episode was the same: Michael on a pedestal, his teammates secondary, smaller, the message no different from when he referred to us back then as his “supporting cast.” From one season to the next, we received little or no credit whenever we won but the bulk of the criticism when we lost. Michael could shoot 6 for 24 from the field, commit 5 turnovers, and he was still, in the minds of the adoring press and public, the Errorless Jordan… Now here I was, in my midfifties, seventeen years since my final game, watching us being demeaned once again. Living through it the first time was insulting enough. 

In addition to the way that he and his teammates were portrayed, Pippen was also unhappy with financial aspects of the documentary. According to Pippen, Jordan made $10 million for his role in the film, while Pippen and the other Bulls players didn’t receive a dime, despite the fact that they had to make sacrifices during their playing days in order for the film to be made. Again from GQ: 

To make things worse, Michael received $10 million for his role in the doc while my teammates and I didn’t earn a dime, another reminder of the pecking order from the old days. For an entire season, we allowed cameras into the sanctity of our locker rooms, our practices, our hotels, our huddles…our lives.   

While Jordan and Pippen may have been ideal complements to each other on the court, it’s clear that there are some deep-rooted off-the-court issues between the two that stem back to their playing days. In fact, earlier this year Pippen admitted that he and Jordan never really established a solid relationship off of the court due to Jordan’s supersized status. 

“Michael was bigger than the game, you know,” Pippen said. “Even [by] my initial arrival to Chicago he was a big, iconic figure for the NBA. So, we never really had that off the court relationship.”  

The duo of Jordan and Pippen is one of the most well-decorated in NBA history, so the relationship between the two is clearly a testament to the fact that players don’t have to be best friends off of the floor in order to attain serious success on it. 

Source: CBSSports.com


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