Scottie Pippen on Michael Jordan: Bulls 'Won in Spite of His Getting on Guys'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 14, 2021

CHICAGO - JUNE 16:  Scottie Pippen #33 and Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls discuss strategy against the Phoenix Suns in Game Four of the 1993 NBA Finals on June 16, 1993 at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois.  The Bulls won 111-105.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1993 NBAE  (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

It's a new day, which means it's time to peel back another layer of Scottie Pippen's antipathy toward former teammate Michael Jordan.

With his memoir, Unguarded, hitting bookshelves, Pippen has used the opportunity to offer his unvarnished opinions of Jordan and The Last Dance documentary, which profiled the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls.

CBSSports.com's Brad Botkin shared a portion from Unguarded's prologue in which Pippen contended Jordan's treatment of other Bulls players wasn't a necessary ingredient in Chicago's six titles:

"Michael was wrong. We didn't win six championships because he got on guys. We won in spite of his getting on guys. We won because we played team basketball, which hadn't been the case my first two seasons, when Doug Collins was our coach. That's what was special about playing for the Bulls: the camaraderie we established with one another, not that we felt blessed to be on the same team with the immortal Michael Jordan."

For Pippen, this might be a particularly personal issue because of his close friendship with Horace Grant, who seemed to be a frequent target of Jordan's tough love.

Sam Smith, who has documented the Bulls for years and authored The Jordan Rules, said on KNBR's Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks in May 2020 he had been told a story of Jordan demanding a stewardess not give Grant any food on a post-game flight because of his performance.

It's impossible to know whether Jordan's demeanor and exacting standards were the difference between the Bulls building a dynasty and largely seeing their achievements lost to history. Correlation doesn't always equal causation, though.

During its run of dominance, Chicago had three players (Jordan, Pippen and Dennis Rodman) who were subsequently named to the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team. Phil Jackson is one of the greatest head coaches in basketball history. And Jerry Krause was a savvy general manager who almost totally remade the roster between the Bulls' 1993 and 1996 Finals wins.

To say the Bulls triumphed in spite of Jordan might be a bit of a stretch, but he probably could've dialed things back a bit and still enjoyed the same level of team success in the Windy City.