Scottie Maurice Pippen Sr. was born on September 25th, 1965. In his career as a professional basketball player, he played 17 seasons with the NBA, winning six of the championships with his team, the Chicago Bulls. Pippen is often cited as being one of the most famous and successful sidekicks in basketball. More specifically, many basketball experts and fans agree that his role beside the legendary player Michael Jordan was one of the most important ones in basketball history.
Scottie Pippen, as he is most commonly known, is most known for his plays with Michael Jordan. Together, this duo had a major contribution in turning the Chicago Bulls around, making them a known championship team. What’s more, these two also helped to make the NBA popular all over the globe in the 1990s decade.
A Brief Summary of Pippen’s Achievements
Scottie Pippen is now considered to be among the best small forwards in basketball to date. Here are some highlights of his successful career:
- He was also part of the NBA All-Defensive First Team no less than 9 consecutive times. He was also named to the All-NBA First Team 3 times.
- Pippen received the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1994 and the NBA All-Star title seven times.
- Pippen’s name was included in the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History for 1996 to 1997.
- The Chicago Bulls retired the jerseys of only a few players till now–this is one of the highest honors a team could give its players, as no other team member could wear that number after the player retires or even dies. Pippen has earned that honor from both the Chicago Bulls and the University of Central Arkansas.
- He played major roles in the 1996 and 1992 Chicago Bulls Championship team, both being among the Top 10 Teams in NBA History.
- He is the only player of the NBA to hold both an Olympic gold medal and an NBA title twice in the same year (1992 and 1996)
- He was in the 1992 Dream Team for the United States in the Olympics that year
- He has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame twice
When Pippen was in his high school basketball team, he was around 6 feet 1 inch as a graduating senior. However, when he went to the University of Central Arkansas and started managing the basketball team, his height had increased by 2 inches. Later on, he earned his spot on the team roster as well.
By the time he was a senior in university, Pippen was an impressive 6 feet and 7 inches tall. He was also one of the best players on the team, if not the very best.
In 1987, Pippen was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics team and traded to the Chicago Bulls in the first NBA draft round. His first season was the 1987-88 ones, and he was soon part of the regular Bulls’ team lineup. Pippen was noted to have a very varied skill set. He had a lot of strength, a good size, quick footwork, a threatening shooting touch, and could handle the ball very well. With his long armed-presence, Pippen was an imposing figure on the basketball court. All of these qualities made this player get into the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a total of 8 times during his whole career.
Overshadowing by Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is often hailed as being one of the best college basketball players of all time as well as one of the most legendary NBA players in history. With his skill and prowess, it’s no wonder that Jordan kept overshadowing Pippen after the latter came to Chicago. At that time, Jordan had already been in the NBA for three years and earned the All-Star title in all of them.
Even though Pippen was now playing against the top basketball player ever, he was still talented enough to draw some attention of his own. His excellent playing made him part of the 7 career All-Star games at the beginning of the 1990s. Pippen was a key player in getting three NBA championships for the Bills from 1991-1993.
Pippen as the Main Star
Eventually, Michael Jordan retired after the third season when the Bulls won the title. After his retirement, Pippen was left as the main star of the team. He soon proved his worth, leading his team to a record of 55 vs. 27 in the 1993-1994 season. He was also named to the first team All–NBA. However, while this season really brought him to the spotlight, his reputation went down a little at that point. This was because he refused to take part in a play-off game at a crucial point with only 1.8 seconds left. His reason was that Phil Jackson, the then-couch, had determined that another player would get the final play.
While Pippen was also part of the first team All-NBA in the 1994095 season and Michael Jordan also returned late in this season, their efforts were not sufficient to take their team beyond the second playoffs round. However, with Dennis Rodman playing forward in the 1995-96 season, Jordan and Pippen were able to guide the Chicago Bulls to yet another three consecutive NBA titles from 1996 to 1998.
After Michael Jordan retired for the second time, the Bulls wanted to rebuild their team. Part of this was trading Pippen out, which made him part of the 1998 Houston Rockets team. After that year, he went to the Portland Trail Blazers. Here, he had four seasons with a decent performance. However, his output wasn’t at the level of an All-Star NBA player.
Pippen’s final run proved to be back with his original team, the Chicago Bulls. However, he was only able to play 23 games due to sustaining injuries. Pippen was put on the list of injured players due to problems with his left knee, though he did have a number of back and shoulder injuries throughout his career. More recently, Pippen also opened up about playing 25 minutes with a herniated disc in the NBA Finals in 1998. This was a major back injury but was not given much attention at the time.
In 2004, Scottie Pippen announced his retirement from the NBA.
Pippen’s Overall Contribution
Most sources cite Pippen to be the greatest basketball sidekick, but this isn’t a completely fair title for all his contributions. A sidekick means someone who is second best; perhaps his title is so because he played alongside Michael Jordan, who was probably among the greatest athletes of all time. However, Scottie Pippen was a complete player in himself along with providing great support for Jordan and the rest of his team.
If we look at the online NBA profile for Pippen, it’s evident that this player was a master at defending, orchestrating offenses, rebounding, and scoring. While he may not have been the best player overall, his position in the Chicago Bulls was so important that many basketball analysts and other experts believe that the six NBA championships won with Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been possible without Pippen.
All of the famous six rings of Michael Jordan occurred with Pippen by his side. It’s still not clear how the duo may have played without the other one on the court as well.
While his original position on the team was as a small forward, he also played other positions like power forward, point forward, and shooting guard when required. Those who are watching football in 2021 probably wouldn’t ever have seen Pippen in his true form, and they might not see a player like that again.
During his basketball career, Scottie proved himself as the best point forward player. Some even argue that not even Jordan could do better with this position. From 1989 to 2000, Scottie consistently got more than five assists per year. John Stockton, the player with the most assists, is the only other basketball player in that period with the same achievement. An assist occurs when a player makes a pass to a teammate that results in a goal after that.
In November 2021, Scottie Pippen released his memoir under the title ‘Unguarded’. In his writing, he seems to hold a lot of grudges and negative memories from his successful career. However, while he had cutting remarks for Michael Jordan, coach Doug Collins, and general manager Jerry Krause, Pippen was also generous with praise for other team members and coaches.
Pippen stated that this book was a response to the Netflix documentary on the final championship season of the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98. The documentary, called ‘The Last Dance’, triggered Pippen to put forward his own story and memories of that time. Fans of his wouldn’t be surprised by his candor, as Pippen has always been a fairly outspoken person whether on the court or not.
The statistics about Scottie Pippen are enough to establish him as one of the basketball greats, though perhaps with a slightly lesser-known name. However, the names of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen will probably be linked forever in the basketball world. Both were very competitive and skilled players, and probably complemented each other best when on the court and united against a rival team. While there might be some grudges and unresolved grievances, it’s evident that Pippen was much more than a mere sidekick.