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"I got plenty of clothes with me" — when Scottie Pippen reiterated his trade request on live TV

Scottie Pippen and the Phoenix Suns engaged in outright tampering, and no one batted an eye.
Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen

Trade conversations among players and teams are sensitive topics in this day and age. The NBA is not shy to slap teams or players with fines if they find out they’re tampering. But in the 90s, there was no such thing. That allowed Scottie Pippen and the Phoenix Suns to express their desire to team up in 1995.

Outright tampering

Trade rumors were swirling around Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen in the second half of the 1994-95 NBA season. Teams were pursuing him — the most aggressive among them was the Phoenix Suns. So much so that then Suns general manager Jerry Colangelo expressed his desire to have Pippen on their team.

It so happened that the All-Star festivities were being held in Phoenix. Craig Sager caught up with Pippen along the sidelines and asked for his thoughts on Colangelo’s wishes. Sager noted that it would be much easier if Pippen stayed in Phoenix — his preferred destination. The forward responded with a giggle:

Yeah, it will be. I’ve been on the road for two weeks, so I got plenty of clothes with me,” Pippen said.

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Sager then went straight to the point and asked Pippen the million-dollar question: Do you think you’ll be shipped out come to the trade deadline? Pippen reiterated his trade request. It did not faze him that a camera was pointed right at him.

I hope I am. I think the way things are looking now, with the trade deadline closing in, there’s a lot of talk going on from different teams. I’m hearing a lot of rumors and speculations. I’m just hoping that the right opportunity arises for the Bulls and for me,” Pippen said.

In that season, Pippen was due $2.2 million. He was tremendously underpaid, given his role on the Bulls and his stature. With this in mind, Sager asked if Pippen would stay in Chicago if his contract gets restructured. Pippen replied:

I would have to say no at this point. I think it’s at the point now... well I want to go and play somehwere else. I think the franchise and the team has changed since I’ve been here. I think it’s a time for a change for me.

I’m back

For some context, the Bulls were struggling in the season. At one point, they were 31-31. And in the NBA, what matters the most is winning. Everything else is trivial. And so one can understand Pippen’s frustrations.

Pippen vented out his request in February. The trade deadline passed, and he was still donning the Bulls jersey. Come March, his old friend and partner in crime Michael Jordan ended speculations and came back. With Jordan, the Bulls went 13-4 and made it to the playoffs. Yes, they were booted out early. But Jordan’s return was enough for Pippen to stay. 

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