Since 1991, former Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen has not spoken to Michael Jordan, but the two superstars have shared one thing in common: they both lost in the 1997 NBA Finals. In that series, Pippen gave a clutch performance in Game 5, hitting a series-winning shot with five seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Bulls were on the cusp of winning the title, but Jordan capped off the game with a last second shot to send the series to a seventh game, which the Bulls ultimately lost in overtime.
As most people know, Steve Kerr and Michael Jordan had a very interesting discussion in the 1997 NBA Finals. One of the most memorable parts of that conversation was Steve Kerr telling Michael Jordan that Michael was the greatest player of all time. It began as a simple phone conversation, and the two talked for quite some time. Michael was impressed with the level of dialogue and research that Steve had done, and even asked him to stop by his house to sign an autograph.
Who knew Steve Kerr was such a big fan of the Chicago Bulls? Not many, but they were joining together for a reason. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were two of the greatest teammates to ever play the game, and they are still considered two of the top power forwards of all time. If you’re a fan of the Bulls and the two have gone their separate ways, it’s safe to say that it’s a little awkward.
Scottie Pippen is at it again, folks. Following a week in which the six-time NBA champion made plenty of headlines as he shared plenty of eyebrow-raising thoughts on the likes of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Kevin Durant in an interview with GQ, Pippen was back at it on Monday morning in what turned out to be a highly uncomfortable interview with Dan Patrick.
Among the topics discussed were MJ leaving the Chicago Bulls to pursue a baseball career, a move Pippen called “selfish.” The two also touched on the famous incident in which Scottie chose to sit out the final 1.8 seconds of a 1994 playoff game where Phil Jackson set up Toni Kukoc to hit a game-winning shot against the New York Knicks, a move Pippen says was racially motivated.
Pippen even went as far as calling Jackson a racist and then went into a confusing rant on the interaction between Jordan and Steve Kerr ahead of the latter’s game-winning shot in the 1997 NBA Finals, which Pippen says was somehow staged. He then clarified that he hasn’t spoken to MJ since the airing of The Last Dance and says he really has no plans to do so.
Yeah, it was a lot. But we’re just going to focus on those last two things here, starting with a little reminder on what transpired at the end of the ’97 Finals.
For those who may need a refresher on what went down at the end of Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals between the Bulls and the Utah Jazz, here’s a quick recap.
With 28 seconds remaining in the game and the score tied 86-86, the Bulls, holding a 3-2 series lead, called timeout to set up a potential title-winning play. During the huddle, Jordan, who’d already scored 39 points, was overheard saying, “give it to me, give it to me,” by NBC’s Ahmad Rashad, who relayed that information to the television audience, saying the plan was for MJ to be isolated, just as he was when he hit the game-winning buzzer-beater in the series opener.
What Rashad hadn’t heard, however, was a conversation we’d learn of later on in which Jordan whispered to Steve Kerr to be prepared if and when the expected double-team from the Utah defense came, to which Kerr shouted back, “I’ll be ready.”
Of course, that’s exactly how things played out. As Jordan began to make the move he had in Game 1, John Stockton left Kerr to double MJ, who stepped through the double-team and found a wide-open Kerr at the top of the key. Kerr caught the pass in stride and nailed a 17-foot jumper to give the Bulls an 88-86 lead. Pippen then stole the ensuing inbounds pass from Utah and deflected the ball to Kukoc, who hammered home a dunk as time expired to give Chicago a 90-86 win and a fifth NBA championship in seven years.
So now that we’ve gone through what went down that day, let’s get to the conversation that occurred on Monday morning between Pippen and Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show. Just after Pippen effectively called Jackson a racist, the conversation moved to the ’97 Finals and what transpired in the huddle prior to Kerr’s game-winning shot.
Pippen told Patrick that the play was designed for Jordan, not Kerr, which seems to be accurate given everything we’ve heard over the years. But things then got really uncomfortable and a little confusing as Pippen discussed that famous interaction between Jordan and Kerr, saying the whole thing was staged.
“Do you know all those cameras who were sitting in that huddle…who they was working for? You know who Michael was speaking to when he said that, right? That was planned! That was speaking to the camera. That wasn’t speaking out of what we’re gonna have to do, what the play is gonna be. That was speaking to the camera. That was building his own documentary because he knew he was controlling the cameras.”
At this point, Patrick had somewhat of a confused look on his face (and understandably so), prompting Pippen to ask, “You understand English?” Scottie went on to say that all of the cameras “were working for Michael Jordan, not for the Chicago Bulls,” and that what Jordan said to Kerr “was not naturally spoken” and that it was “rehearsed.”
If any of that sounds confusing, trust me, you’re not alone in thinking that as that particular portion of the interview was very awkward. And is there a different documentary on the ’97 Bulls or ’97 MJ that we’re not aware of? Pippen mentioned Come Fly With Me as he was discussing that whole thing but that was released in 1989. And as we all know, camera crews didn’t start following the Bulls for the footage we eventually got in The Last Dance until the following season. So I honestly have no idea what Pippen was talking about here and it seemed as if Dan Patrick didn’t either.
Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan at Pippen’s surprise birthday party in 2012 | Barry Brecheisen/WireImage)
As cameras were a topic of conversation, the conversation between Pippen and Patrick steered toward The Last Dance and how Pippen was portrayed. Scottie said he certainly took issue with some things that were included that didn’t need to be, including anything from the time MJ was away playing baseball as the doc was clearly centered more around MJ than the Bulls as a whole.
Patrick then asked Pippen if he’d talked to Jordan since The Last Dance aired, to which Pippen replied that he hadn’t. DP then asked if he wanted to and this was Scottie’s reply:
“No. I mean, I think we both moved on in our life. There’s nothing to be holding onto that went on 20-plus years ago. There’s nothing for us to talk about. I mean, we could talk about our lives and our families and our golf games or something but we ain’t gotta go back and clarify nothing that happened in the ’90s.”
And there you have it, folks. This certainly won’t be the last we hear from Pippen in the upcoming months as his tell-all autobiography, Unguarded, is set to be released later this year. So stay tuned, folks. It seems like Scottie is just getting warmed up.
RELATED: Michael Jordan Didn’t Want the Chicago Bulls to Draft Scottie Pippen as He Wanted His Former UNC Teammate Instead
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen still friends?
Yes, they are still friends.
Did Dennis Rodman talk to Michael Jordan?
Yes, he did.
Is Scottie Pippen unhappy with the last dance?
No, he is not.
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