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THE LAST DANCE, EPISODE 2 The Scottie Pippen episode


Episode 2 revealed Scottie Pippen as the primary source of drama in the entire ‘97/’98 season. To sum it up, Pippen was significantly underpaid due to the 7-year contract he had signed in 1991. With Jerry Krause planning a rebuild, it created a lot of issues. Pippen wanted to renegotiate, Krause tried to trade him. 

“It was embarrassing because he was maybe the no. 2 player in the NBA.”

Phil Jackson

During the Bulls’ championship run, Pippen was second in scoring, second in rebounding, second in minutes played, first in assists, first in steals, and 122nd in salary in the NBA. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said it clearly in the episode - once you sign a contract, there’s no chance he will talk to you about renegotiating it. That’s how a situation like this happened. 

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Bulls pay scale in 1998

It resulted in Scottie getting surgery at the beginning of the season, instead of during the summer. His logic was simple - the team wasn’t being player-friendly with a renegotiation, so Scottie wouldn’t be team-friendly with the time of his surgery. Even Jordan said he felt Pippen was being selfish and putting himself above the team. For MJ, this wasn’t about money - he was just thinking about winning. (It's easy not seeing is as a money issue when you're getting paid more than the rest of the team combined.)

“Every day that Scottie wasn’t playing gave someone else confidence that they could beat us.”

Michael Jordan

The episode ends with a forgotten moment. Pippen had enough and had asked for a trade. This gives us a week to take a step back and compare that situation to today's NBA. Player empowerment may seem absurd at times today; this is a reminder where they are coming from.

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