Scottie Pippen’s journey to the NBA has been far from ordinary. Pippen grew up in a working-class family in Hamburg, Arkansas, where he attended Hamburg High School. He was playing point guard at the time and had earned all-conference honors as a senior. At first, Pippen didn’t receive any college scholarship offers until persuading Don Dyer of the University of Central Arkansas to provide him with one.
“A few guys academically fell off, so some scholarships came available, and I go back, ask the coach. I was very persistent, and he finally gave me a scholarship”
Scottie Pippen, The Last Dance
After receiving a scholarship from the UCA, his journey there didn’t start the whey he had hoped. It took Scottie a lot of time to prove himself as a basketball player to coach Dyer. However, he didn’t lose faith in one day making it to the NBA and was ready to do whatever it took to make his dream a reality.
“He always knew he was going to make it to the NBA. I didn’t believe him. Scottie arrived at UCA, and he started as being the equipment manager, but he was practicing and doing all of those things that he should do with the team”
Ronnie Martin, The Last Dance
His transition from 6’1”, the 155-pound guard he was in high school to a 6’8” all-around forward at the end of his college career drew the attention of NBA scouts. His senior year in college, Pippen was named a Consensus NAIA All-American, averaging 23.6 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. His versatility and athletic ability, along with his humbleness, were very appealing.
Playing point guard early in his career helped him develop playmaking abilities, which, combined with his size and an excellent feel for the game, made him an intriguing prospect. Bulls GM Jerry Krause recognized the potential in Scottie, trading their draft rights to No.8 pick Olden Polynice to the Seattle Supersonics for No.5 pick Scottie Pippen.
Pippen went on to have a historically great career, winning 6 NBA championship along with Michael Jordan and becoming a crucial part of one of the greatest teams in NBA history. Not bad for someone who started as an equipment manager.