Scottie Pippen is making headlines again after an interesting interview for the GQ in which he stirred up a lot of people because of his commentary. First, Pippen went after Kevin Durant in some way, saying he wasn’t on the same level as LeBron James; he called out Ben Simmons for his shooting, and even though he actually made some valid points, it gained a lot of attention because of the coverage and the mere fact Pippen is a true NBA legend.
On top of that, Pippen reflected on the infamous playoff game against the Knicks in 1994, where on the last play, Phil Jackson decided Toni Kukoc will take the last shot instead of Pippen. Kukoc delivered, and Pippen, who was supposed to inbound the ball initially, refused to get back in the game because he thought he deserved to take that shot now that the Bulls were his team after Jordan left. In the interview, Pippen described Jackson’s coaching decisions as a ‘racial slur’ in which he wanted to give a better opportunity to Kukoc instead of him.
I don’t think it’s a mystery, you need to read between the fine lines. It was my first year playing without Michael Jordan, why wouldn’t I be taking that last shot? I been through all the ups and downs, the battles with the Pistons, and now you gonna insult me and tell me to take it out? I thought it was a pretty low blow. I felt like it was an opportunity to give [Kukoc] a rise. It was a racial move to give him a rise. After all I’ve been through with this organization, now you’re gonna tell me to take the ball out and throw it to Toni Kukoc? You’re insulting me. That’s how I felt.Scottie Pippen, via GQ
After Jordan retired, Pippen took on the role of the leader, and the Bulls were still an excellent team, with him leading the way having the best individual season in his career. However, he believed he had all the right to take the last shot because it was his time to shine after Jordan left, and it was his hard-earned privilege to have that opportunity.
Yeah. Go back and look at it, and you can see it. It was my team. Why are you telling me to take the ball out on a game-tying shot. It wasn’t even a game-winning shot. Why are you trying to let him be the hero? He ain’t the leader of this team. No. You trying to make him a hero to hit that shot. If he misses, he playing wit’ house money. He playing what I done earned here. Okay? I have been earning this for Michael Jordan for years and he gets the last shot. And I’m supposed to step inside and let Kukoc get in there? [Scoffs.] Do you understand English? Oh. Okay. Exactly.Scottie Pippen, via GQ
Pippen is unnecessarily throwing the race card out there because Phil Jackson decided to have Kukoc take the last shot that actually went in, which led to the Bulls winning the game. On top of that, if you look at the highlights from that specific game, Pippen was given the opportunity to seal the game, but he failed. The Bulls were up 102-100, after which Pippen took a horrible contested shot which led to a basket from Patrick Ewing on the other end. Luckily the Zen Master knew what he was doing on the last play having Kukoc, who possessed a clutch gene, take the game-winning shot.
Everything Pippen said about Kukoc and Phil in the interview is completely uncalled for because the evidence proves otherwise. Pippen was the leader for the Bulls for that short period when Jordan was absent, and Jackson treated him that way. Unfortunately for him, Pippen underperformed in the last moment of that game, and Jackson trusted his instinct and let Kukoc be the hero, and he delivered big time.
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