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Scottie Pippen Once Refused to Play After Phil Jackson Didn't Give Him Last Shot

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2020

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 29: Scottie Pippen #33 and  Head Coach Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls reacts during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 29, 1998 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon. 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 1998 NBAE (Photo by Steve DiPaola/NBAE via Getty Images)
Steve DiPaola/Getty Images

Former Chicago Bulls power forward Scott Williams said he feared for Scottie Pippen's reputation after the All-Star forward refused to take the floor late in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Knicks in the 1994 NBA playoffs.

Williams told ESPN's Ian O'Connor in an interview released Saturday he thought Pippen's decision would have lasting consequences.

"The most bizarre thing I've ever seen at any level of sports," Williams said. "You think of Bill Buckner, who had a Hall of Fame type of career, and he's known for one blunder. I was afraid that would happen to Pippen."

Ira Berkow of the New York Times wrote in the recap (dated May 14, 1994) that Bulls head coach Phil Jackson called the final shot for Toni Kukoc, so Pippen took himself out of the game.

"As far as the last play goes, Scottie Pippen was not involved in the play. He asked out of the play," Jackson said during his postgame press conference. "That is all I'm going to say about it."

Pippen explained his view of the situation:

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"Phil and I kind of exchanged some words. That was pretty much it. It wasn't Phil taking me out of the game, we pretty much exchanged words and I took a seat. I think it was frustration. We really blew this game as much as we possibly could. We were able to pull off the win. Toni made another outstanding shot and it was a well-called play by Phil."

Kukoc hit the shot to give the Bulls a 104-102 victory, which helped the superstar's absence fade from the forefront of the discussion, but they lost the series in seven games.

Chicago played the 1993-94 season and the following campaign without Michael Jordan.

Pippen spent MJ's time away from the organization as the on-floor leader, a role former Bulls center Will Perdue said the three-time All-NBA First Team selection "struggled" to deal with, per O'Connor.

"You could see Scottie slinking down in his chair like, 'Oh my God, what did I just do?' ... That was something that could have totally sunk our team," Perdue said.

Jordan returned to the Bulls in 1995, and they'd go on to win their second three-peat of championships, giving the organization six during its dynastic run of the 1990s.

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