‘The Last Dance‘ documentary’ which was focused mostly on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, allowed the fans to get acquainted with the other superstar from that team, Scottie Pippen. Some would even say that he should have received more attention in the documentary, but fans still had an opportunity to witness how vital his impact was on the team. For the most part, Pippen was described as Jordan’s sidekick, and most of the focus was on Jordan the majority of the time, as we saw in the documentary.
Among people who understand and watch basketball, it was evident Pippen was a special player who does so many things on the court incredibly well. To this day, he is considered one of the best forwards ever to play the game of basketball, and you’ll rarely see a player capable of playing both ends of the floor on such a high level as Pippen did.
Phil Jackson, who coached Pippen ever since he came to the NBA, immediately saw in which ways Pippen could help the team. There is a perception that Jordan did all the talking during Bulls practice, but according to Jackson, Pippen was the voice of the team in every way possible. Because of his high basketball IQ, especially on defense, Pippen took care that all of his teammates knew where they need to be in certain situations during the game. You could easily say he was the team’s captain when it came to defense.
His greatest strength was his knowledge of how things worked on the defensive end of the floor. Scottie was the voice of our team—figuratively and literally, as he did a lot of the talking and kept our team on the same page. When he wasn’t at the top of the key harassing a guard as a special assignment, he was on the backside of our defense, talking his teammates through different situations, whether it was a double team, trap, or some other important aspect. Because of that, he was very vital to the run that we made.Phil Jackson, via NBA.com
Stats can tell one side of the story about a particular player and his role within the team, but observations like the one from the Zen Master are a whole other thing. When it comes to Pippen, people knew he was a tremendous player because they saw him dominate the competition almost on a nightly basis during his playing days. However, most of the fans never fully acknowledged all the little things he did for the Bulls, especially to navigate the defense and make the right plays at the right time.
Jackson also said Pippen has a great understanding of the game and would even make a good coach if he decides to pursue that path. When one of the greatest coaches in NBA history thinks that way about a particular player, you know get a better understanding of how special he is, and Pippen was just that.