Scottie Pippen takes aim at Michael Jordan in new book
Scottie Pippen’s new memoir, âUnguarded,â is a master class for settling scores or creating new ones.
From the prologue, Pippen expresses his anger at Michael Jordan over “The Last Dance,” the ESPN 2020 documentary on the 1990s Chicago Bulls, which Pippen writes “glorified Michael Jordan while not giving enough praise for me and my proud teammates “. Pippen gets more caustic from there.
âHow dare Michael treat us this way after all we’ve done for him and his precious brand,â writes Pippen, adding, âTo make matters worse, Michael was awarded $ 10 million for his role in the documentary while my teammates and I don’t earn a dime. ” (Pippen and several Bulls players appeared on camera for the documentary. It has not been publicly disclosed how much Jordan, whose company Jump 23 was a part of the project, did for the series.)
Responding to Jordan calling Pippen âselfishâ in the documentary for delaying foot surgery and asking to be traded, Pippen wrote, âYou want to know what selfishness is? Selfish is retiring just before training camp begins when it is too late for the organization to sign free agents, âa reference to Jordan’s first unexpected retirement after his father’s death. He calls Jordan a hypocrite and insensitive. And he criticizes Jordan for his behavior towards his colleagues: “Seeing again how badly Michael treated his teammates, I cringed, like I did back then.”
“Michael and I are not close and never have been,” writes Pippen.
It’s just in the first few pages. Throughout the rest of the book, Pippen shoots everyone from Charles Barkley (“wasn’t dedicated enough to win a championship”) to Isiah Thomas (“dirty” player, “with a knack for making the most inappropriate comments. “).
Pippen also takes on former Bulls coach Phil Jackson about the famous 1994 moment when Pippen refused to make a playoff again for the final 1.8 seconds after Jackson hatched a game for Toni Kukoc. instead of for him. After telling Dan Patrick in a radio interview earlier this year that he was racist on Jackson’s part, Pippen revisits that claim in the book. Despite this, Pippen writes that Jackson humiliated him and that “the moment of truth had come, and he had abandoned me.”
As open-minded as Pippen was in the book, he seemed much less willing to engage with the material in an interview. The conversation during a video conference became laconic and Pippen canceled a photoshoot afterwards.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
You come from very humble roots. You were not recruited by a major school. You have been underpaid relative to market value for a significant period of your career. Is there a time in your life when you haven’t felt forgotten? Because this book seems to come from many of you who want to write your own story and who want to set the record straight.
I think I can say that there was no part of my life that I felt neglected. This might be your take on what you got from reading the book, but I didn’t feel like I was forgotten. I just felt like it was a different journey than most people have been on – who played at a professional level, who had to go to college.
From the first pages of the book, you give Michael Jordan a sledgehammer. Have you always felt this and kept that inside or did those feelings really come into focus after watching “The Last Dance”?
I think he’s always strayed a bit from what I see as the traditional team concept, in a way. And I think “The Last Dance” just put the icing on the cake. So it was all about him at the end of the day.
One of the most interesting sentences is when you write: âWe didn’t win six championships because he faced the guys, we won despite his commitment. And I thought that was really interesting, because Jordan’s treatment of his teammates has long been touted as a virtue. Did you find it unproductive?
Well, I can’t say I found it unproductive, because it was productive.
But you also said that you won despite this.
Well, we won when he retired. We didn’t win a title, but obviously we didn’t have a full roster, so.
Are you worried that your book will create a permanent separation between the two of you?
To answer your question, no.
Have you warned him of what you are saying about him?
You write that Isiah Thomas reached out after the documentary aired and wanted to declare a truce with you. You said you didn’t want to talk to him. Why is that?
Well, I played in the league for 18 years and there was never a relationship there. I’ve been out of the league for 15 years, so why now? It is no longer as if we are crossing paths.
You write that the book pushed you where you needed to be pushed, even places you didn’t want to go. What’s an example of a place you really needed to push to talk? What places didn’t you want to go?
I don’t want to point it out specifically. I think you should read the book and understand. I’m not going to make it easy for you by causing controversy on this matter.
Your interview with Dan Patrick in the spring made headlines. You said it was racist that Phil Jackson didn’t write the game for you in the infamous 1.8 second game. You put that up in the book. After making these comments, have you heard about it from former teammates? What did you hear from people and what made you come back to this in the book?
What made me go back?
I haven’t caught up with him. I just didn’t have it in the book. I said it probably wasn’t fair of me to say that Phil was racist at this point. It’s water under the bridge now. But at that point, depending on where I was as a player, what year I had, I thought it was a bad decision on his part.
When was the last time you spoke to Phil Jackson?
I do not remember.
Just to clarify, because I just want to make sure I don’t put words in your mouth. Don’t you think Phil was racist in pointing to Toni Kukoc to take that last hit?
I said it ? What are you asking for?
OK, in your book, and I quote you here – –
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Did you hear me say that I said that?
Well, yeah, I watched the interview.
OK, so I said it. Now what are you asking me?
In your book you write, âI was so hurt when he chose Toni over me that I had to find an explanation as to why I was rejected. Because why, after everything I had given to the Chicago Bulls, I was not allowed to have my moment. So I thought back then that Phil’s decision must be racist, and I allowed myself to believe that lie for almost 30 years. It wasn’t until I saw my words printed that I realized how wrong I was. So you call that a lie. So I just want to clarify what it is exactly. Do you believe or not that Phil was racist when he wrote this play?
I feel like it was a time when he hurt me. And that ? What if I answered your question this way.
OK fine. What do you think is a big misconception about you? Is there something people don’t know about you that you would like them to know about you?
I am private so there is not much you can learn about me.