Dennis Rodman Talks Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen After 'The Last Dance'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2020

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Scottie Pippen #33, and Dennis Rodman #91 of the Chicago Bulls are seen during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on February 24, 1997 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. 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 1997 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Michael Jordan might be the focus of The Last Dance, but Dennis Rodman argued Scottie Pippen will ultimately receive the biggest lift from the 10-part docuseries. 

"Scottie was so underrated—and so underpaid," Rodman said to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. "He should be holding his head up higher than Michael Jordan in this documentary. I think a lot of people are now realizing what he went through. The kid was a hero, in a lot of ways, during those great Bulls runs."

Before they were teammates in Chicago, Rodman and Pippen were on opposing sides as the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls battled for Eastern Conference supremacy. In the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, Rodman earned a flagrant foul when he shoved Pippen to the floor under the basket.

Rodman told MacMullan he respected Pippen's game despite the ongoing rivalry between Detroit and Chicago:

"At that time, people were calling Larry Bird the quintessential forward. He was great, but he couldn't play multiple positions like Scottie could. He wasn't agile enough. I just don't think people realize what Scottie was doing in 1991.

"He revolutionized the point-forward position. All these players today should thank Scottie Pippen. Guys like Kevin Durant should say, 'Wow, look what you did for us.' Scottie could handle, he could shoot the ball, he could defend, he could rebound."

Rodman said that from afar he believed Jordan "didn't totally trust" Pippen as the Bulls were trying and failing to win their first title. He thought MJ was "so pissed" at Pippen during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals when migraines limited Pippen's impact.

As time went on, Rodman thought Jordan came to see the seven-time All-Star for the transcendent talent he was.

For the most part, The Last Dance feels like an avenue for Jordan to remind older NBA fans and teach younger generations about his on-court exploits.

To Rodman's point, Pippen might benefit more because his career hasn't already been so thoroughly dissected in the way Jordan's has.

In his 12 years with the Bulls, the Hall of Famer averaged 17.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists. At the time, fans didn't expect to see a 6'8" forward scoring off the dribble while simultaneously facilitating a team's offense. In addition, Pippen was one of the most versatile defensive players of his generation, with 10 All-Defensive team honors to his name.

Jordan is almost universally considered the greatest basketball player ever, and for good reason. However, the Bulls' six championships in eight years almost certainly don't happen without Pippen alongside him in Chicago.