Scottie Pippen says MJ “Couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried”
"UNGUARDED"

Scottie Pippen says MJ “Couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried”

Phil Jackson called him the greatest all-around player of all time. But, Scottie Pippen (and many of his teammates) were frustrated after The Last Dance aired. For everyone watching, it would seem Pip was just a backup, there to elevate one man – no.23. “How naïve I was to expect anything else.” After a lot of speculation, here’s how Scottie described his feelings and thoughts after The Last Dance aired in his new memoir “Unguarded,” out on November 9th.

“The Errorless Jordan”

For a while now, Pip’s been on a tear. From taking subtle shots like the one while announcing the memoir, to calling MJ’s departure to play basketball “a selfish decision,” to saying the famous pass to Kerr happened only because the documentary was being filmed – it was obvious Pippen wasn’t happy with the way The Last Dance portrayed the Bulls. But unlike everyone else, Scottie decided to speak up about it.

Pippen says he “spoke to a number of my former teammates who each felt as disrespected as I did.” Anyone who’s seen The Last Dance knows why. This is not a documentary about the Chicago Bulls; it’s an homage to Michael Jordan. Scottie explains his frustration by saying everyone on the team sacrificed their privacy in 1998, yet MJ is the only one who got the spotlight. They weren’t pitched on making a documentary about Jordan, they agreed to make one about the team.

“Each episode was the same: Michael on a pedestal, his teammates secondary, smaller, the message no different from when he referred to us back then as his “supporting cast.” From one season to the next, we received little or no credit whenever we won but the bulk of the criticism when we lost. Michael could shoot 6 for 24 from the field, commit 5 turnovers, and he was still, in the minds of the adoring press and public, the Errorless Jordan”. 

Scottie Pippen, Unguarded via GQ

If this explanation sounds familiar to younger fans, I can tell you where you heard it before. That’s how another 23 got described by a lot of teammates. When they lose, it’s Kyrie and Kevin Love’s fault. When they win, LeBron carried the team. It seems like both guys left a long list of teammates that feel LeBron’s and MJ’s contributions are overrated and their teammates over scrutinized. What can I say – you don’t buy sneakers from a guy who’s just one of the guys. You buy them from the superhero.

Speaking of LeBron, Pippen seems to be in the camp of people who believe the documentary became a reality because Jordan felt his GOAT status came into question. The story goes that MJ approved the doc in a room with LeBron’s Cleveland parade in the background.

“Michael was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior.”

Scottie Pippen, Unguarded via GQ

“His equal, if not superior.” Ouch.

“Couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried”

When feelings get hurt, stuff comes out. This wasn’t just about the principle. One of Pippen’s major moments in the doc was explaining his bitter contract dispute with the Bulls. To remind you, Scottie had a very difficult upbringing. So when the opportunity to take care of his family arrived, Pip grabbed it. Many people told him to hold off and get a much better contract in the future – including the Bulls GM Jerry Krause! But he didn’t listen and signed. Here’s the consequence.

Jerry Reinsdorf, the Bulls owner, made it clear to Pippen that once he signed the deal, there was no turning back. So while you’re mileage can vary on whether MJ got too much glory and fame, and the rest of the team got shorted, no one can dispute Scottie Pippen was underpaid. Remember the part when Pip pointed out everyone sacrificed their privacy, yet MJ got all the glory? Same goes for money.

“To make things worse, Michael received $10 million for his role in the doc while my teammates and I didn’t earn a dime, another reminder of the pecking order from the old days. For an entire season, we allowed cameras into the sanctity of our locker rooms, our practices, our hotels, our huddles…our lives.”

Scottie Pippen, Unguarded via GQ

No one is disputing that MJ was the no.1 guy on that team, not even Scottie. “He was that spectacular,” writes Pippen, but adds that “he relied on the success we attained as a team—six titles in eight years—to propel him to a level of fame throughout the world no other athlete, except for Muhammad Ali, has reached in modern times.

MJ would’ve been a superstar wherever he went. What Pippen is suggesting is that it’s not a guarantee Michael Jordan would’ve become the GOAT, and had a career that justified putting him in a sentence with Ali, wherever he went. Pippen, Kukoč, Grant, Rodman, Paxson, Kerr, Cartwright, Harper, and others had something to do with that. I tend to agree.