(Disclaimer: The intro may or may not have been written by a member of Scottie Pippen’s entourage)
Three seasons to unpack here. Three losing, hopeless, wretched seasons before Chicago finally got their glimmer of light named Scottie Maurice Pippen. It’s funny that most fans thought that the Bulls were all but guaranteed a championship eventually because they had some skinny kid named ‘Michael Jordan’. Nope. Common misconception spewed out by old heads. Kids, this was Michael Jordan before Scottie Pippen arrived on the scene.
(Editor is now back)
Number 5: The North Carolina Shot
Remember when Scottie refused to step on the court with 1.8 seconds left in a testy Knicks playoff game, just because the play wasn’t run for him? That’s because up to that point, Pippen had spent his first six seasons riding shotgun on game-deciding plays, and now he finally wanted a piece of the action. That despere turned selfishness, was because the Bulls from the absolute beginning had that guy in Michael Jordan.
In Jordan’s freshman year in North Carolina, he took them all the way to the championship game with a record of 31-2. But with 17 seconds left in the game, Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas were leading 61-62, but Jordan had the ball in his hands. Bad place to be in if you're Georgetown. Jordan hits the shot, it being the first of many, many more.
Number 4: Signs a contract with Nike
Signing a contract? Really? Yes.
In 1984, Converse had Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Mark Aguire just to name a few. The only reason that in 2021, Converse has become non-existent in the basketball shoe game while Nike now runs the league is clear: Michael Jordan.
While originally hesitant with Nike’s ‘devil use’ of red and black colors, Jordan signed with the mid-size Nike company and immediately created the Jodan Brand. Up until his first meeting - he had never even worn a Nike shoe. But first, Nike gave Jordan a set of conditions he had to live up to. Win Rookie Of The Year or be an All-Star, or average 20 ppg, or sell $4 million worth of shoes in a year. Safe to say he excelled every expectation and then some - changing the game forever.
Number 3: The Freezeout
Isiah Thomas really was a dick.
It was no secret that Jordan was popular. If a player was fined $5000 a game for wearing inappropriately colored sneakers and still wore them every night, how could you not like that guy? But Isiah Thomas was a different story.
While Jordan was appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the heading "A Star Is Born", Thomas was growing a tincy bit jealous. So to put the kid in his place, Thomas organized what is now called ‘the Freezeout’. Well, allegedly. The myth goes that Thomas told the rest of the eastern All-Stars not to pass to Jordan. True or not, rookie Jordan played the Pistons two days later and had 49-points and 15-rebounds. Two seasons later, still pre-Pippen, MJ put 61 on the prime Thomas and the Pistons.
Number 2: Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain?
In 1987, Wilt Chamberlain was a mystic figure. The placeholder for every statistical record one could imagine. And now in 2021, nothing has really changed - except a young Jordan happened to match him and even surpass him where he could.
Only Jordan and Chamberlain have scored 3,000 points in a regular season. Except Jordan did it in a significantly less possessions-per-game era. He put up 37.1 points per game - another accomplishment no other player has matched, not named Chamberlain.
However, one thing Chamberlain has done that Jordan has (mostly due to the stat not being recorded in Wilt’s time), was record 200 steals and 100 blocks in a season. A record to this day that has only been beaten once. That was by MJ the next year.
Number 1: ‘God disguised as Jordan’
Did you think we were gonna skip 1986 just because Jordan broke his leg three games into the season? Even with my short window, this moment conquers all.
Anticipatedly making his comeback later in the season to drag the Bulls to their first playoffs of the Jordan era, they faced the 1986 Boston Celtics. Thought by many to be the greatest team in NBA history - they being mostly Boston fans - Jordan scored 63 in the Boston Garden. 63!
That is still a playoff record to this day. The soon-to-be champion Celtics squeezed the win out in double-overtime 135-131. But that’s a pretty impressive Jordan moment before Pippen if you ask me.
Pippen made it clear in his book, that “Michael Jordan would never have been Michael Jordan without me, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, John Paxson, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, Bill Cartwright, Ron Harper, B. J. Armstrong, Luc Longley, Will Perdue, and Bill Wennington”.
Well according to Pippen, Phil Jackson is a racist and Kevin Durant doesn’t know how to play basketball. But I think I'm going to live in the universe where MJ made Nike and now that we mention it, made Scottie Pippen.