While Michael Jordan was definitely the best player on the team and the primary reason for the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s, he could not have done it alone. And one guy who doesn’t get enough credit for his role in helping the Bulls to transition into a championship team is Scottie Pippen. While he didn’t play his entire career for the Bulls, his most memorable time was spent with the team. Here I will go over his career and how he helped the Bulls become one of the most successful and popular teams in the league.
Pippen was born in Arkansas and was the youngest of 12 children. His parents did not make enough money to send him to college and while his high school basketball career was good, he received no NCAA scholarships. He would eventually be a walk-on at the University of Central Arkansas, which wasn’t even an NCAA team (they played in the NAIA). He didn’t receive a bunch of attention, until he blossomed to 6’8 during his senior year and his per game averages were enough to get the attention of NBA scouts.
Heading into the 1987 NBA Draft, Pippen was expected to be a fairly high pick and that expectation came to fruition as he was selected fifth overall by the Seattle Supersonics and traded to the Bulls to join superstar Michael Jordan. During his rookie year, Jordan was a mentor to Pippen in every way (and was throughout his career) and helped hi polish and refine his existing skills, and helped him develop new ones.
This help from Jordan, along with Pippen’s natural ability, allowed him to become one of the best young forwards in the game throughout the late 1980s and once the 1990s hit, he was the premier defender on the bulls and was a very versatile scorer that could do it all. If Jordan was the backbone of the offense of the 1990s Bulls, Pippen was the backbone of the defense.
Throughout the 1990’s, the Bulls managed to win six NBA championships and Scottie Pippen was a huge reason why. His defensive leadership and offensive versatility was a perfect complement to Jordan and, not to be outdone, Pippen had quite a few individual accomplishments of his own. He was a seven time all-star and was an eight time All NBA Defensive First Team member. He also had his famous number 33 retired by the Bulls.
After being done with the Bulls, Pippen went on to play for both Houston and Portland, but his per game averages and efficiency were not as good as they were in Chicago and he was no longer elite. However, these last few disappointing years do not tarnish his legacy in Chicago, because if it wasn’t for him, the Bulls may not have won those six titles in the 1990s. While Jordan gets all the glory (as the greatest player of all time should), Pippen deserves more attention than he currently gets for what he accomplished both individually, and for his team.