Before watching The Last Dance documentary, most of the younger fans probably connected the Chicago Bulls team to Michael Jordan. However, Scottie Pippen was often neglected in these conversations, and most of the fans forgot how vital his role was for the Bulls squad during those championship runs. Pippen was a versatile forward capable of doing multiple things equally great on the basketball court and is still to this one of the best perimeter defenders in NBA history.
His former teammates and current head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr, played with Pippen for several seasons and witnessed his greatness daily. Many people feel Pippen is vastly underappreciated, and this is the same notion Kerr has when thinking about the impact he actually made during his career. With his versatility, especially on the defensive end, Kerr is confident he would fit perfectly in the NBA today.
“Scottie was an incredible basketball player, and I think underrated at this point. He would’ve been so good in the modern game. He would’ve guarded 1 through 5 every single game. There isn’t a five man in the league now that he couldn’t guard and every point guard in pick n roll. He would be able to stay in front and use arms. The driving lines would open up his passing abilities. Scottie was a brilliant basketball player.”Steve Kerr, via Zach Lowe Podcast
Apart from his immense talent and basketball skills, Pippen was one of the leaders on the Bulls whose approach and relationship with teammates were very much different than Jordan’s. Jordan was known as someone who demanded a lot from everyone and set the bar really high. If some of the players didn’t respect that, he would put a lot of pressure on them, which was often the main reason for some problems within the team covered in the recent documentary.
Pippen’s approach was different, and according to Kerr, he was more compassionate and understood the pressure players were going through when playing for the Bulls. In one of the earlier interviews, Toni Kukoc said the same thing about Pippen, calling him one of the best teammates he ever had because of his ability to connect with others on a personal level.
“I think one of the reasons why Scottie was beloved by Michael and all of us because he was such a perfect complement to Michael. Michael was the hardass. He was the guy that was coming hard at you, and you had to be ready every single day for his criticism, his force, his intensity, and intimidation. Scottie was the one who balanced everything out. He would put his arms around you and make sure you are ok with all the difficulty that you had to face being a member of that time. Scottie was beloved by everybody, including Michael, but he was a phenomenal basketball player.”Steve Kerr, via Zach Lowe Podcast
In one of the episodes of ‘The Last Dance,’ it was none other than Jordan who said, ‘whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen.’ That sentence perfectly describes what Pippen meant for that team on many different levels that are not just connected to the actual game of basketball. Pippen was indeed a quiet leader on that Bulls team, and the truth of the matter is that without his commitment, that team wouldn’t be as successful as they were.