Scotty Pippen revealed the ins and outs of Michael Jordan. Scandal in America is gaining momentum
The release of the memoirs of the six-time NBA champion in the Chicago Bulls Scotty Pippen has been known for a long time. Few expected a big resonance, but about six months ago it turned out that Scotty’s memories would be critical of his famous teammate Michael Jordan.
At the end of June, an abstract of Pippen’s autobiographical book Unguarded was published. In several paragraphs of the text, there was an open attack on Jordan. Scotty also made some critical comments in the media about The Last Dance, which shows Michael’s perspective on the breakup of the Bulls dynasty in the late 1990s. “Championship” talked about this in detail in the old material.
In the summer, the scandal only flared up. Now it is already gaining momentum. GQ has released an excerpt from Pippen’s memoir, which portrays Jordan, to put it mildly, in a not-so-good light. Scotty has revealed all the ins and outs of Jordan and is not going to stop. On November 8, Pippen will give a great interview with GQ, where he will surely make a lot of high-profile statements. And on November 9, the memoirs will be published in full. First you need to deal with the first fragment of Pippen’s biography that appears. Here is its full content.
“Michael sent a message. He didn’t talk to his former teammates very often.
“How are you dude? I heard that you are offended at me. I want to talk about it if I have time, ”Jordan wrote.
I had a busy schedule that evening. I knew the conversation would take some time.
“Let’s talk tomorrow,” he answered after an hour and a half.
Michael was right. I was angry with him. This was due to Last Dance, an ESPN documentary series of 10 episodes about the 1997/1998 Chicago championship. Millions of people watched this documentary in the first weeks of the pandemic. There were no live sports broadcasts on television at that time. The Last Dance was shown on five consecutive Sunday nights starting in mid-April. This series distracted us from the new realities of life, in which we all suddenly found ourselves. There was so much news about hospitalizations and deaths that anyone could swallow the product.
The last two episodes aired on May 17. As with the previous eight, they made Michael Jordan famous, but didn’t do justice to me and my outstanding teammates. Michael took most of the fame. The producers gave him editorial control over the final product. Otherwise, the series could not have been released. He was the leading actor and director.
I expected more. I was first told about the show a little over a year ago. I could not wait for its release, because I knew that rare footage would be shown there. I came to Chicago in the fall of 1987, the most productive period of my career. 12 men came together to pursue a childhood dream on basketball courts across the country. All we needed was a ball, a ring and our imagination. Being a Bulls player in the 1990s meant being part of something magical. For our time and for all times.
Michael was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was a great person in his day. Greater than LeBron James is now, considered by many to be Jordan’s equal or better. Michael presented his story, not the Last Dance story, of how our coach Phil Jackson summed up the 1997/1998 season when it became apparent that Jerry Reinsdorf and Jerry Krause were going to disband the team.
Krause told Phil in the fall of 1997: “You can do 82-0 in the regular season, but it won’t make any difference. This is your last season as coach of the Chicago Bulls.
ESPN sent me links to the first eight episodes a couple of weeks before the official release. When I watched the documentary at home in Southern California with my three teenage children, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Among the scenes in the first episode:
- Michael Jordan – University of North Carolina freshman who scored the winning shot in the 1982 NCAA Finals with Georgetown;
- Michael Jordan was selected by the Bulls as the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, behind Hakim Olajuvon (Houston Rockets) and Sam Bowie (Portland Trail Blazers). He talks about his hopes of changing the franchise;
- Michael helped the Bulls make a comeback in their third game for the team with the Milwaukee Bucks.
It went on and on, the spotlight shining on player 23 all the time.
Even in the second episode, which for a while focused on my difficult childhood and difficult path in the NBA, the narrative returned to MJ and his determination to win. I was nothing more than a supportive element. He called me his “best teammate of all time.” He couldn’t have been more forgiving even if he tried.
On reflection, I still believed my eyes. I spent a lot of time with this person. I knew what drove him. How naive it was to expect something different.
Each episode was the same: Michael on the podium, his teammates secondary and less significant. The situation was no different from the times when he called us his “minor squad.” From season to season, we got little or no attention when we won. But most of the team was criticized when we lost. Michael could have thrown 6 out of 24 from a field, made 5 losses, but in the minds of the adored press and public, he was still the Perfect Jordan.
And here I am, when I was already over 50, 17 years after the last game in the NBA, I watch how we are humiliated again. It wasn’t easy to transfer it the first time either.
Over the next few weeks, I spoke to several former teammates, each of whom felt the same disrespect for themselves as I did. How dare Michael treat us this way after all we’ve done for him and his precious brand? Michael Jordan would never have become Michael Jordan without me, Horace Grant, Tony Kukoch, John Paxon, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, Bill Cartwright, Ron Harper, BJ Armstrong, Luke Longley, Will Purdue and Bill Wennington. I apologize to everyone I forgot to name.
I’m not saying that Michael wouldn’t be a superstar anywhere else. He was an impressive player. Jordan just relied on the success we had as a team (six titles in eight years) to bring him to a level of worldwide fame that no other athlete has achieved except Mohammed Ali. To make matters worse, Michael received $ 10 million for his role in the documentary, while my teammates and I didn’t make a dime. Another reminder of the hierarchy of old times. Throughout the season, we allowed cameras to infiltrate the privacy of our dressing rooms, our workouts, our hotels, our gatherings … our lives.
Michael wasn’t the only former teammate who contacted me that week. Two days later, I got a text message from John Paxon, a point guard for our first two championship teams, who later became general manager of the Bulls and then vice president of basketball operations. Communication with Paxon took place even less often than with Michael.
“Hey Pip… This is Pax. Michael Reinsdorf ( son of Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of “Chicago” – Approx. “Championship” ) gave me your number. I just want you to know that I respect you immensely as a teammate. You can tell different stories, but I rely on my real experience. I watched you grow from a dilettante to a professional. Don’t let anyone, including the media, tarnish your image. You are successful and important, I am very lucky to be your teammate, ”wrote John.
Was it a coincidence that the messages from Michael and Paxon were just two days apart? I think no.
Both knew how angry I was at the documentary. They tested me to make sure I wouldn’t cause any problems. Troubled by the Bulls, who were still paying Paxon to serve as an advisor. Or problems of the legacy of Michael, to whom he has always treated with special trepidation.
Paxon and I didn’t get along for years. In the summer of 2003, I turned down an offer from Memphis to sign a two-year contract with the Bulls and mentor young players like Eddie Curry, Tyson Chandler, Jamal Crawford and Kirk Heinrich. I worked closely with coach Bill Cartwright. I played with Bill from 1988 to 1994. We called him Teach. He didn’t say much. However, when he said something, he made the others think.
“Pip, I want you to attract Bill. I want him to be a kind of outside coach, ”said Paxon.
Why not? The new challenge was exactly what I needed. At 38, my career was coming to an end. I had a lot to offer both on and off the site. I was confident that this experience would allow me one day to become a head coach. Perhaps even the Chicago coach.
Did not work. Bill was fired after 14 games and was replaced by Scott Skiles.
I played only 23 games before retiring in October 2004. My body was exhausted after 17 years in the league. Rather, even 19 and a half years old, if you count 208 games in the playoffs. Paxon thought I had failed him and the organization. This could explain why after kaya I finished my career, he was not interested in my opinion on personnel issues, although he knew how much I want to say my word in the future of the team.
In 2010, when I was finally taken to the Bulls headquarters, I was nothing more than a mascot that appeared several times a year for special “performances”. I signed autographs and met with season ticket holders. Mainly for one purpose – to be a link with a past era in moments of glory.
At the beginning of 2014, it seemed that I would be playing a more significant role. The Bulls sent me on about a dozen NCAA scouting matches. One of the trips was to Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. I watched the play of the fifth seeded Duke and the first seeded Syracuse. I’ve seen a lot of Duke’s matches on TV before. What an atmosphere it was like: students with their faces painted blue stood the whole game and cheered for their beloved Blue Devils, harassed poor opponents.
Duke, led by freshman forward Jabari Parker, beat Syracuse 66-60.
I couldn’t believe how loud it was. Even louder than the Chicago arena where we played for many years. I was happy to participate in basketball operations. I wanted to help the Bulls with my experience, but not using my own name.
After completing the scouting reports, I awaited a response from Paxon and other members of the organization. What do they want me to do next?
I didn’t hear a word.
In addition, the Bulls did not invite me to any meetings or training with prospectuses in the weeks leading up to the 2014 NBA Draft. I realized that they mocked me from the very beginning.
On May 22, 2020, the day after Paxon sent his message, we spoke on the phone for several minutes. He got straight to the point.
“Pip, I hate how it turned out when you got back to Chicago. This organization has always treated you badly. I want you to know that I think this is wrong, ”he said.
I was glad to hear that Paxon admitted his mistake. But this does not mean that I am ready to forgive him. If that’s really what he was aiming for. It was too late for forgiveness.
“John, it’s okay, but you’ve worked in the Bulls front office for almost 20 years. You had a chance to change the situation, but you did not, ”I replied.
He began to cry. Didn’t know what to say. I waited for him to stop. I do not understand why he was crying. And, frankly, I didn’t care. Soon our conversation, fortunately, ended, ”reads the first part of an excerpt from the book.
Fan opinion on Pippen’s words is divided. Someone considers all claims against Jordan unfounded and claims that Scotty, who has lost popularity, is trying to “catch the hype.” Someone argues that Pippen’s statements reflect the objective reality to which they turned a blind eye for many years.
Jordan was a talented basketball player, but a complex personality. Michael’s teammates had a hard time. It’s not only about the constant stay in the background, but also the colossal mental pressure that Jordan put on partners. The truth is probably somewhere in between. We look forward to further revelations from Pippen, of which there will be a lot this month.