Scottie Pippen is often overlooked on the all-time lists as the best forward, but his value for the Chicago Bulls and their championship runs was unmatched. Pippen was indeed a versatile player capable of scoring, passing, rebounding, and playing on both ends of the floor exceptionally well. Throughout his career, Pippen was characterized as Jordan’s sidekick, but in Phil Jackson’s mind, he was the team leader during those years for the Bulls.
Phil Jackson recognized the value Pippen brings to the team not just on the basketball court but also off the court. Pippen was liked by other teammates and often was in charge of communicating with them and making them feel like they are apart of the team. His communication skills were an asset for creating a pleasant atmosphere within the roster.
“Scottie was our team leader. He was the guy that directed our offense, and he was the guy that took on a lot of big challenges defensively. The year that Michael retired, Scottie, I think, was the most valuable player in the league. He was probably the player most liked by others. He mingled. He brought out the best in players and communicated the best.”
Rick Tellander, who worked for the Chicago Sun-Times and covered the Bulls for years, said Pippen was the ultimate “glue guy” in the Bulls. He wasn’t the best player on the team when Jordan was on the roster, but he did a lot of things extremely efficient, which gave the Bulls edge when playing against other teams. On a strategic level, Pippen’s point forward abilities added a lot of value for the Bulls in the triangle offense.
“There is little doubt of his value to the Bulls, whose coach, Phil Jackson, at times has said that Pippen is the team’s most valuable player. Where Jordan is the diamond pendant at the base of the gleaming necklace, Pippen is the thread running through the emeralds, pearls, and lesser stones that compose the whole. He’s the glue that holds the Bulls’ triangle offense together, its Doberman defense in place. He’s the facilitator, a point forward who can bring the ball up the court, penetrate, shoot, rebound, hit open teammates, and guard anyone against point guards to power forwards. But most of all, he can play team ball.”