Scottie Pippen

Scotty Maurice Pippen[1][2] (born September 25, 1965), commonly spelled Scottie Pippen, is an American former professional basketball player. He played 17 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), winning six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls. Pippen, along with Michael Jordan, played an important role in transforming the Bulls into a championship team and in popularizing the NBA around the world during the 1990s.[3]

Scottie Pippen
Pippen with the Chicago Bulls in 1995
Personal information
Born (1965-09-25) September 25, 1965
Hamburg, Arkansas
Listed height6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Listed weight225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High schoolHamburg (Hamburg, Arkansas)
CollegeCentral Arkansas (1983–1987)
NBA draft1987 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th overall
Selected by the Seattle SuperSonics
Playing career1987–2008
PositionSmall forward
Number33, 8
Career history
19871998Chicago Bulls
1998–1999Houston Rockets
19992003Portland Trail Blazers
2003–2004Chicago Bulls
2008Torpan Pojat
2008Sundsvall Dragons
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points18,940 (16.1 ppg)
Rebounds7,494 (6.4 rpg)
Assists6,135 (5.2 apg)
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

Considered one of the greatest small forwards of all time, Pippen was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight consecutive times and the All-NBA First Team three times. He was a seven-time NBA All-Star and was the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1994. He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History during the 1996–97 season, and is one of four players to have his jersey retired by the Chicago Bulls (the others being Jerry Sloan, Bob Love, and Michael Jordan). He played a main role on both the 1992 Chicago Bulls Championship team and the 1996 Chicago Bulls Championship team which were selected as two of the Top 10 Teams in NBA History. His biography on the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame's website states, "The multidimensional Pippen ran the court like a point guard, attacked the boards like a power forward, and swished the nets like a shooting guard."[4] During his 17-year career, he played 12 seasons with the Bulls, one with the Houston Rockets and four with the Portland Trail Blazers, making the postseason sixteen straight times.

Pippen is the only NBA player to have won an NBA title and Olympic gold medal in the same year twice (1992, 1996).[5] He was a part of the 1992 U.S. Olympic "Dream Team" which beat its opponents by an average of 44 points.[6] Pippen was also a key figure in the 1996 Olympic team, alongside former Dream Team members Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Charles Barkley as well as newer faces such as Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and Grant Hill. He wore number 8 during both years.

Pippen is a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (for his individual career, and as a member of the "Dream Team"), having been inducted for both on August 13, 2010.[7] On December 8, 2005, the Chicago Bulls retired his number #33, while his college, University of Central Arkansas, retired his number #33 on January 21, 2010, as well.[8]

Early life

Scottie Pippen was born on September 25, 1965, in Hamburg, Arkansas, the youngest of 12 children, born to Ethel and Preston Pippen (June 9, 1920[9] – May 10, 1990).[10] Pippen's mother was 6 feet tall and his father was 6'1" and all of their children were tall, with Scottie being the tallest. His parents could not afford to send their other children to college. His father worked in a paper mill until a stroke, that paralyzed his right side, prevented him from walking and affected his speech.[11]

Pippen attended Hamburg High School. Playing point guard, he led his team to the state playoffs and earned all-conference honors as a senior. He was not offered any college scholarships. Pippen began his college playing career at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway after being discovered by then-UCA Head coach, Don Dyer, as a 6'1" walk-on. He did not receive much recognition in college because the school played in the NAIA. He eventually had a growth spurt to 6'8",[12] and his per game averages of 23.6 points, 10 rebounds, 4.3 assists and near 60 percent field goal shooting earned the Central Arkansas senior Consensus NAIA All-American honors in 1987 and made him a dominant player in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference, drawing the attention of NBA scouts.[8][13]

NBA career

Early career (1987–1990)

Having eyed Pippen before the 1987 NBA Draft but selected too low, at No. 8 overall,[14] the Chicago Bulls manufactured a trade with the Seattle SuperSonics that would send Pippen, selected fifth overall, to the Bulls, in exchange for Olden Polynice and future draft pick options.[15] Pippen became part of Chicago's young forward tandem with 6'10" power forward Horace Grant, although both came off the bench to back up Brad Sellers and Charles Oakley respectively, during their rookie seasons. Scottie made his NBA debut on November 7, 1987, when the Chicago Bulls faced the Philadelphia 76ers as their first game of the season. He finished the game with 10 points, 2 steals, 4 assists and 1 rebound in 23 minutes of play. The Bulls won their season-opening game 104–94.[16] With fellow Bull, Michael Jordan, as a motivational and instructional mentor, Pippen refined his skills and slowly developed many new ones over his career. Jordan and Pippen frequently played one-on-one outside of team practices, simply to hone each other's skills on offense and defense. Pippen claimed the starting small forward position during the 1988 NBA Playoffs, helping the Jordan-led Bulls to reach the conference semifinals for the first time in over a decade. Pippen emerged as one of the league's premier young forwards at the turn of the decade,[17] recording then-career highs in points (16.5 points per game), rebounds (6.7 rebounds per game), and field goal shooting (48.9%), as well as being the NBA's number three leader in steals (211).[17] These feats earned Pippen his debut NBA All-Star selection in 1990.[17] Pippen continued to improve as the Bulls reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 1989 and 1990, but were eliminated both times by the Detroit Pistons. In the 1990 final, Pippen suffered a severe migraine headache at the start of Game 7 that impacted his gameplay and he made only one of his ten field goal attempts as the Bulls lost 93–74.[18]

The Bulls' first three-peat (1991–1993)

In the 1990–91 NBA season, Pippen emerged as the Bulls' primary defensive stopper and a versatile scoring threat in Phil Jackson's 'triangle offense'. Alongside the help of Michael Jordan, Scottie continued to improve his game. He had his first triple-double on November 23 when the Bulls faced the Los Angeles Clippers as he had 13 points, 12 assists and 13 rebounds in 30 minutes in a 105–97 win.[19] He had his second triple-double against the Indiana Pacers on December 22 as the Bulls defeated the Pacers 128–118. Pippen finished the game with 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in 41 minutes of play, in addition to 1 steal and 1 block while shooting 54.5% from the field.[20] Pippen scored a season-high of 43 points on February 23 in a 129–108 win against the Charlotte Hornets. In addition, he also grabbed 4 rebounds, dished out 6 assists and had 6 steals in 31 minutes of play. He had a career-high field goal percentage that game with 94.1% as he was 16–17 from the field.[21] Pippen had his third and final triple-double of the season on April 4 against the New York Knicks as the Bulls won 101–91. He finished the game with 20 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in addition to 4 steals while shooting 50% from the field in 42 minutes of play.[22] The Bulls finished the season with a record of 61–21. They were first in the Central Division, first in the Eastern Conference and second overall, as the Portland Trail Blazers clinched the first spot. Pippen was second on the team in points per game with 17.8 and steals with 2.4 next to Michael Jordan and he was also second in rebounds per game with 7.3 next to Horace Grant. Pippen led the team in blocks per game with 1.1 and assists per game with 6.2.[23] He ranked fifth overall in the NBA in steals, both for total and per game.[24] For his efforts in the 1990–91 NBA season Pippen was awarded NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors.[23] The Bulls went on to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals.

He helped lead the Bulls to their first three-peat, as they won the following two years in 1992 and 1993. Pippen earned 10 NBA All-Defensive Team nods, including 8 on the first team. In 1992, he was named to the original Dream Team which competed in the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. With the U.S. winning the gold medal, Pippen and Jordan became the first players to win both an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal in the same year.[5]

The Dream Team (1992)

On September 21, 1991, amongst 9 other players (2 more would be later selected), Pippen was announced as a member of the United States men's Olympic basketball team which was set to represent the United States of America in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.[25]

Pippen without Jordan (1993–1995)

Michael Jordan retired before the 1993–94 season and in his absence Pippen emerged from Jordan's shadow. That year, he earned All-Star Game MVP honors and led the Bulls in scoring, assists, and blocks, and was second in the NBA in steals per game, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.9 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game, while shooting 49.1% from the field and a career-best 32% from the 3-point line. For his efforts, he earned the first of three straight All-NBA First Team selections, and he finished third in MVP voting. The Bulls (with key additions of Toni Kukoč, Steve Kerr and Luc Longley) finished the season with 55 wins, only two fewer than the year before.

However, one of the most controversial moments of Pippen's career came in his first year without Jordan. In the 1994 NBA Playoffs, the Eastern Conference Semifinals pitted the Bulls against the New York Knicks, whom the Bulls had dispatched en route to a championship each of the previous three seasons. On May 13, 1994, down 2–0 in the series in Game 3, Bulls coach Phil Jackson needed a big play from his team to have any chance of going on to the conference finals. With 1.8 seconds left and the score tied at 102, Jackson designed the last play for rookie Toni Kukoč, with Pippen instructed to inbound the basketball. Pippen, who had been the Bulls' leader all season long in Jordan's absence, was so angered by Jackson's decision to not let him take the potential game-winner that he refused to leave the bench and re-enter the game when the timeout was over.[26] Although Kukoč did hit the game-winner, a 23-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer, there was little celebrating by the Bulls, as television cameras caught an unsmiling Phil Jackson storming off the court.[27] "Scottie asked out of the play," Jackson told reporters moments later in the post-game interview.[28] Teammate Steve Kerr elaborated when asked to recall the event: "I don't know what got into Pippen. He is such a great teammate and maybe the pressure was getting to him and he just could not take it anymore, no one knows for sure but he is a team player."

A key play occurred in the following Game 5 which changed the outcome of the series. With 2.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Knicks' Hubert Davis attempted a 23-foot shot which was defended by Pippen, who was called for a personal foul by referee Hue Hollins, who determined that Pippen made contact with Davis.[29] Television replays indicated that contact was made after Davis had released the ball.[29] Davis successfully made both free throw attempts to assist in the Knicks victory, 87–86, and gave the Knicks a three games to two advantage in the series.[29] The resulting incident was described as the most controversial moment of Hollins' career by Referee magazine.[30] Hollins defended the call after the game saying, "I saw Scottie make contact with his shooting motion. I'm positive there was contact on the shot."[29] Darell Garretson, the league's supervisor of officials and who also officiated in the league, agreed with Hollins and issued a statement, "The perception is that referees should put their whistles in their pockets in the last minutes. But it all comes down to what is sufficient contact. There's an old, old adage that refs don't make those calls in the last seconds. Obviously, you hope you don't make a call that will decide a game. But the call was within the context of how we had been calling them all game."[29] Garretson later changed his stance of the call the next season. Speaking to a Chicago Tribune reporter, Garretson described Hollins' call as "terrible".[30] Chicago head coach Phil Jackson, upset over the outcome of the game, was fined $10,000 for comparing the loss to the gold medal game controversy at the 1972 Summer Olympics.[31]

In Game 6, Pippen made the signature play of his career. Midway in the third quarter, Pippen received the ball during a Bulls fast break, charging toward the basket. As center Patrick Ewing jumped up to defend the shot, Pippen fully extended the ball out, absorbing body contact and a foul from Ewing, and slammed the ball through the hoop with Ewing's hand in his face. Pippen landed several feet away from the basket along the baseline, incidentally walking over a fallen Ewing. He then made taunting remarks to both Ewing and then Spike Lee, who was standing courtside supporting the Knicks, thus receiving a technical foul. This extended the Bulls' lead to 17; they won 93–79.

In the final Game 7, Pippen scored 20 points and grabbed a whopping 16 rebounds, but the Bulls still lost 87–77.[32] The Knicks then proceeded to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Houston Rockets, also in seven games.

Trade rumors involving Pippen escalated during the 1994 off-season. Jerry Krause, the Bulls' general manager, was reportedly looking to ship Pippen off to the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for all-star forward Shawn Kemp, moving Toni Kukoč into Pippen's position as starting small forward with Kemp filling in the vacant starting power forward position in place of Horace Grant, a free agent who left the Bulls for the up-and-coming Orlando Magic during the off-season. In January, when asked by the late Craig Sager as to whether he thought that he would be traded, Pippen replied, "I hope I am".[33] However, Pippen would remain a Bull and those rumors were put to rest once it was announced that Michael Jordan would be returning to the Bulls, late in the 1994–95 season. The Pippen-led Bulls did not play as well in the 1994–95 season as they had in the season before. In fact, for the first time in years, they were in danger of missing the playoffs (though much of this may be due to a lack of interior defense and rebounding due to Grant's departure). The Bulls were just 34–31, prior to Jordan's return for the final 17 games, and Jordan led them to a 13–4 record to close the regular season. Still, Pippen finished the 1994–95 season leading the Bulls in every major statistical category—points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks—becoming only the second player in NBA history to accomplish this (Dave Cowens did it in 1977–78; it has since been achieved also by Kevin Garnett in 2002–03, LeBron James in 2008–09, and Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2016–17).[3][34]

The Bulls' second three-peat (1996–1998)

With the return of Michael Jordan and the addition of two-time champion Dennis Rodman, the Bulls posted the best regular-season record in NBA history at the time (72–10) in 1995–96 en route to winning their fourth title against the Seattle SuperSonics. Later that year, Pippen became the first person to win an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal in the same year twice, playing for Team USA at the Atlanta Olympics.[5]

The Bulls opened 1996–97 NBA season with a 17–1 record and had a league-best record of 42–6 when entering the All-Star break.[35] Both Pippen and Jordan were selected as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players due to the league celebrating its 50th season. The ceremony was held at half-time of the 1997 NBA All-Star Game which took place on February 9, 1997. Phil Jackson, the Chicago Bulls head coach, was honored as one of the 10 greatest coaches in NBA history, while the 1992 Chicago Bulls Championship team and the 1996 Chicago Bulls Championship team, on which Scottie played key roles, were selected as two of the greatest teams in NBA history.[36] In the All-Star game itself, Pippen was 4–9 from the field, finishing with 8 points as well as 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 25 minutes of play. The East defeat the West 132–120 and Glen Rice was crowned the All-Star Game MVP[37] Pippen scored a career high of 47 points in a 134–123 win over the Denver Nuggets on February 18. He was 19–27 from the field and in addition grabbed 4 rebounds, dished out 5 assists and had 2 steals in 41 minutes of play.[38] On February 23 Pippen was voted "Player of The Week" for his efforts in the week of February 17.[39] This would be his 5th time to receive that honor and also his last. But as the league entered its final weeks, the Bulls encountered their first major roadblocks in their drive to win their 5th NBA Championship as they lost several of their key players such as Bill Wennington, who had a ruptured tendon in his left foot,[40] Dennis Rodman, who had injured his knee[41] and Toni Kukoč, who had an inflamed sole on his right foot.[42] This put even more pressure on Scottie and Michael to try to keep Chicago from losing more games.[35] Chicago finished a league-best 69–13 record. In the final game of the regular season, Scottie missed a game-winning 3-pointer which led to the Bulls failing to have back-to-back 70-win seasons.[43] For his efforts in the 1996–97 NBA season, Pippen earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors for the 7th consecutive time as well as All-NBA Second Team honors.[44]

Despite injuring his foot in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, Pippen helped the Bulls to an 84–82 victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. One of the highlights of the game was when Karl Malone was fouled by Dennis Rodman with 9.2 seconds left and had a chance to give Utah the lead and Scottie famously psyched Malone out, before he stepped up to the line, by saying: "Just remember, the mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays, Karl." He missed both free throws. Jordan got the rebound and quickly called a time-out with 7.5 seconds left. With the game on the line, the Bulls put the ball in Jordan's hands. He dribbled out most of the waning seconds, then launched a 20-footer that went in at the buzzer to give Chicago a 1–0 series lead.[45] In Game 3 of the series, Pippen tied a then finals record of seven 3-pointers, they still lost 104–93.[46] Perhaps the most iconic moment of the series happened in Game 5, which is also known as "The Flu Game". Jordan was battling illness but still managed to dominate the game as the Bulls won 90–88, and with only a few seconds remaining and the game's result safely in Chicago's favor, Jordan collapsed into Pippen's arms, creating an iconic image that has come to symbolize "The Flu Game".[47] During Game 6, Pippen made one of the greatest plays of his career. Trailing by two, after Steve Kerr's jump shot with 5 seconds remaining, the Jazz looked for a final shot to stay alive, but Pippen knocked away Bryon Russell's inbound pass, intended for Shandon Anderson and rolled the ball over to Toni Kukoč, who dunked the final 2 points of the game to give the Bulls a 90–86 lead, clinching their fifth championship. Afterwards, Jordan was named Finals MVP for the fifth time.[48]

Amid speculation that the 1997–98 season would be the last in Chicago for Pippen, Jordan, and Jackson, the Bulls followed up by playing against the Jazz again in the 1998 NBA Finals to win their second three-peat.

Houston Rockets (1998–1999)

In the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season, after being with the Chicago Bulls for 11 seasons, Pippen, the second all-time leader in points, assists, and steals in Bulls franchise history, was traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Roy Rogers and a 2nd round pick in the 2000 NBA draft (Jake Voskuhl was later selected).[44] Pippen's trade to Houston received much publicity, including his only solo cover of Sports Illustrated.[49] In order for the Rockets to create enough salary-cap room to acquire Pippen, Charles Barkley said that he sacrificed greatly as he signed a five-year $67.2 million contract before the previous season.[50] Pippen's salary was $11,000,000, almost four times as much as his salary the previous season with the Chicago Bulls, $2,775,000.[44]

Alongside Barkley, his former Olympic teammate, he was also teamed with Hakeem Olajuwon, but there were chemistry problems, especially with Barkley.[51] Pippen had his first triple-double in a 93–87 loss against the Atlanta Hawks as he had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in addition to 1 steal in 46 minutes of play.[52] On April 22, 1999, Pippen was detained by police, under suspicion of driving while intoxicated.[53] The Houston police officer, who stopped Pippen about 1:30 a.m., said the Rockets' star ran a red light. A member of the department's DWI task force was called after it was suspected Pippen was intoxicated, Houston police spokesman Fred King said.[54] The charges were later dropped due to insufficient evidence.[55] He had his second triple-double of the season in a 106–101 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers as he had 23 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in addition to 6 steals in 45 minutes of play.[56] Despite averaging a career high in minutes per game with 40.2 and finishing 4th in the NBA in minutes played, Pippen averaged 14.5 points per game, his lowest since his rookie year, and he made a career-low 43.2 percent of his shots. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists and was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team for the 8th time.[57] The Rockets finished the season with a 31–19 record, finishing third in the Midwest Division and fifth in the Western Conference. They faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. In Game 3 of the series, Pippen scored 37 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block in order to stave off elimination.[58] The Lakers would go on to win the series the following game as they defeated the Rockets 98–88 and took the series 3–1.[59]

Following the season's end and the Rocket's elimination from the playoffs, Pippen expressed that he wanted to be traded. Charles Barkley appeared on Up Close and openly criticized Pippen by saying: "For him to want to leave after one year, it disappointed me greatly. The Rockets went out of their way to get Scottie and the fans have treated him well, so I was just disappointed in him." Pippen commented on the situation in an interview by saying: "I wouldn't give Charles Barkley an apology at gunpoint. He can never expect an apology from me, if anything, he owes me an apology for coming to play with his fat butt." He stated that the main reasons for his departure were Barkley's selfishness and his lack of desire to win. He also expressed the wish to play for his former coach Phil Jackson, who was now coaching the Los Angeles Lakers. Scottie said one of the reasons he wants to play for Jackson is because he longs to return to the system in which they won six NBA titles together in Chicago.[50] Pippen was traded by the Houston Rockets to the Portland Trail Blazers on October 2, 1999, in exchange for Stacey Augmon, Kelvin Cato, Ed Gray, Carlos Rogers, Brian Shaw and Walt Williams.[60]

Portland Trail Blazers (1999–2003)

Pippen claimed the starting small forward position with the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1999–2000 NBA season. Playing alongside new stars such as Rasheed Wallace and Steve Smith, Pippen continued to demonstrate his defensive capabilities, even past his prime. On January 3, when the Trail Blazers faced the Bulls, Pippen was honored with a video tribute highlighting his best moments in his 11-year career with the Bulls. Pippen later commented on the tribute by saying: "It was very emotional for me, but I tried to handle it as well as possible realizing I had a game to play. It was something that brought back a lot of memories for me, a lot of things I miss about this city, playing in this arena."[61] Under Head coach Mike Dunleavy, the Trail Blazers posted a 59–23 record and clinched the second spot in the Pacific Division and the third spot in the Western Conference. Pippen played and started in all 82 games that season, averaging 12.5 points per game, 5 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game.[62] In the first round of the 2000 NBA Playoffs, Portland defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 3 games to 1.[63] Their opponents in the second round were the Utah Jazz.[64] In Game 5, while leading the series 3–1, with 12.6 seconds remaining, and Portland trailing by 2, Pippen inbounded the ball to Damon Stoudamire, who returned it to Pippen, who hit a three pointer with 7.3 seconds remaining. The Jazz fouled Pippen on the next play, and he stepped to the line and made one of two free throws to give the Blazers an 81–79 lead. Bryon Russell of the Jazz attempted a game-winning three-pointer, but took the shot while off balance, which resulted in an air ball. The Trail Blazers won the series 4–1 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals.[65] There, they faced the Los Angeles Lakers, coached under Phil Jackson, Pippen's former coach in Chicago. The series was stretched to a deciding Game 7, in which the Trail Blazers held a 15-point lead in the 4th quarter. However, led by the All-Star duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, the Lakers managed to erase Portland's lead and win the game 89–84 and with that also the series.[66] The Lakers proceeded to the 2000 NBA Finals where they faced the Indiana Pacers and were eventually crowned the NBA Champions.

In the 2000–01 NBA season, Pippen played 64 games, starting in 60 of them. He was forced to miss 18 games, due to a tendinitis in the elbow of his right arm, which was his shooting arm. Pippen started being bothered by minor injuries during December but still managed to play. His right arm stiffened after a game with the Boston Celtics on January 8. He missed the next six games and, after a two-point performance in a loss to the Sacramento Kings on January 20, the injury became too painful for him again. He had the elbow examined by several doctors before going into surgery.[67][68] After undergoing the procedure to remove a bone fragment in his right elbow, he made his return on February 22 against the Utah Jazz and played for the remainder of the season.[69] Pippen finished the season with averages of 11.3 points per game, 4.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. The Trail Blazers finished the season with a 50–32 record, fourth in the Pacific Division and seventh in the Western Conference. They were swept in the first round of the playoffs, by the returning and eventual repeat champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.[70]

Pippen played for two more seasons in Portland: the Trail Blazers made the playoffs both years, but were eliminated in the first round.

Return to Chicago (2003–2004)

After the 2002–03 season, Pippen left Portland in order to sign with the Chicago Bulls, where he had begun his NBA career and won six championships. Bulls' general manager John Paxson pursued Pippen to return to his old team, which had little success following the breakup of the Bulls dynasty in 1998. The deal was made official on July 20, 2003, as Pippen signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the franchise.[71] Pippen assumed a veteran role on the team in order to guide the young Bulls team, but was faced with numerous injuries throughout the season and was only able to play 23 games, averaging 5.9 points, 2.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game.[72] He played the final game of his NBA career against the Seattle SuperSonics on February 2, 2004, scoring 2 points, with 3 assists and 1 rebound in 8 minutes of play in a 109–97 loss.[73] The Bulls compiled a 23–59 record, failing to qualify for the playoffs.[74] This would mark the first time in Pippen's career that his team did not reach the playoffs. Pippen was a constant presence in the NBA playoffs prior to this season, reaching the playoffs in 16 straight years (11 with Chicago, 1 with Houston, 4 with Portland). He is second in the NBA in career playoff steals, with 395 (LeBron James 419). On October 5, 2004, Pippen announced his retirement.[75]


The Chicago Bulls retired Pippen's jersey number in a ceremony on December 9, 2005. The team played against the Los Angeles Lakers that night and Pippen was reunited with Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Horace Grant during the ceremony. Pippen's 33 joined Michael Jordan's 23, Bob Love's 10, and Jerry Sloan's 4 as the only numbers retired by the Bulls.[76]

In 2007, Pippen had attempted to make an NBA comeback as he expressed that he would like to play for a championship contender in hopes of getting his 7th Championship ring. Pippen had spent the winter working out in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and announced that he was hoping for a late-season return to the league. Dwyane Wade, who was the Finals MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals and the captain of the returning champions, the Miami Heat, liked the idea of Pippen making a comeback and expressed his views on it: "I'm already playing with [Gary] Payton and Shaq, two guys I used to play with on video games. To add Scottie Pippen to the mix, that would be crazy."[77]

In January 2008, Pippen made a brief comeback to professional basketball at age 42, when he made a tour of Scandinavia and played two games for top Finnish league team Torpan Pojat (ToPo), and top Swedish league team Sundsvall.[78] In his first game, on January 4, Pippen scored 12 points in ToPo's 93–81 win over Porvoo. He registered nine points and nine rebounds in a 98–85 win over Honka on January 5.[79] In his third game of the tour, Pippen registered 21 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and two steals in 30 minutes in a 102–74 Sundsvall Dragons win over Akropol of Rinkeby. The Dragons paid Pippen $66,000 for his appearance.[78]

Pippen returned to the Bulls on July 15, 2010, as a team ambassador.[80] In 2012, he was named senior advisor to Michael Reinsdorf, the Bulls' president and COO.[81]

Pippen started in the 2011 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game for the East squad alongside his former 1992 Dream Team teammate Chris Mullin. He was 6–8 from the field and topped the game's scoring list with 17 points. The East squad ended up defeating the West squad 54 to 49. One of the highlights of the game was Pippen's block on singer Justin Bieber who ended up being voted as the MVP of the game. In a later interview, Pippen commented on Bieber's performance: "He played pretty well, but he has an ugly shot."[82]

In order to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their first NBA Championship in 1991, the Chicago Bulls organization honored the 1991 Chicago Bulls Championship team in a ceremony during halftime of a game versus the Utah Jazz on March 12, 2011. Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan both attended and participated in the celebration, where they were reunited with their former teammates John Paxson, Horace Grant, Stacey King, Craig Hodges, Will Perdue, Scott Williams, Cliff Levingston, Dennis Hopson and Assistant Coach Johnny Bach. Former head coach Phil Jackson did not participate but gave a speech via a video message. Former Bulls' broadcaster Jim Durham emceed the halftime ceremony.[83]

On March 17, 2011, the Chicago Bulls organization announced that they would honor Pippen with a bronze statue which will be placed inside of the Bulls' home arena, the United Center. He expressed his gratitude by saying: "Words really can't express my feelings. It's something you dream of as a kid growing up, but you can never foresee those childhood fantasies becoming reality. You see statues of individuals who have done great things and made their mark on history, but as a basketball player, you never really think about arriving at this point. It's an amazing honor for the Chicago Bulls to do this for me."[84] The statue was unveiled on April 7, 2011, during a half-time ceremony of a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics.[85]

On May 27, 2011, Pippen generated a great deal of criticism by saying that Miami Heat star LeBron James may be a better player than Michael Jordan. This came only a day after the Heat beat the Bulls 4 games to 1 to advance to the 2011 NBA Finals. Pippen said: "Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to ever play the game. I may go so far as saying LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game."[86] Pippen faced a backlash from Bulls fans after his comments, and even former teammates such as Horace Grant who stated in a radio interview: "Wow, Pippen's my man, and we'll always be close, but I totally disagree. LeBron is going to be one of the top players to ever play the game, but Michael Jeffrey Jordan, who we bumped heads at times, is I think, the best basketball player I've ever seen."[87] In a later interview on the radio show Kap & Haugh Pippen stated: "No, I did not say I would take LeBron over Michael. The reality is you need to go back and figure out what I said."[88]

Player profile

Pippen was famed for his defensive abilities, having made the NBA All Defensive Team ten consecutive years during his career and leading the league in steals in 1994–95. Phil Jackson once described him as a "one-man wrecking crew", capable of guarding anyone from the point guard to the center position.[89] Pippen is one of three NBA players to record 200 steals and 100 blocks in a season and he has the record for second most career steals in the playoffs (395) behind LeBron James. He was skilled at staying in front of his man on defense, and particularly effective as a help defender, with his long arms in traps. He was also capable of chasing down an opposing player in transition to block shots from behind.

On offense, Pippen relied primarily on his remarkable athleticism to gain an advantage over his defender; he slashed towards the basket for higher percentage shots. Early in his career, Pippen was not an adept jump shooter; he struggled when shooting directly on a line to the basket. He favored shooting his jump shots—mid-range and three-pointers—on an angle. He could regularly bank the ball off the backboard into the basket. He honed his jump shot over the course of his career and became more effective at scoring from distance later in his career.


Pippen is remembered as one of the greatest defenders ever to play the game, and one of the most versatile and agile players overall. Much like fellow Chicago Bull Michael Jordan, he provided tenacious on-the-ball perimeter defense, or tough interior defense, and was particularly effective as a help defender. He was gifted with extraordinary athleticism, even compared with other professional athletes, and skills in areas that bode well for basketball.

His unusually long arms (2.2 m (88 in) wingspan)[11] and jumping agility helped him to clog the passing lanes on defense, to block shots from behind on players that had managed to pass him by, to grab seemingly out-of-reach rebounds, to make unusual plays in mid-air, and to make passes around defenders that most players are physically unable to make. He often led the Bulls in assists and blocks as a result. Pippen was also a selfless player. His team-focused approach to the game was a key component in the Bulls' championships. Pippen's career assists total of 6,135 (5.2 per game) is a testament to that approach. It was 23rd all-time among all players when he retired.

His intense work ethic and athletic physique gave him the ability to consistently make highlight-reel plays, such as applying defensive intensity, forcing a turnover, stealing the ball and starting a one-man fast break that he would finish with a thunderous slam dunk. As Pippen himself has attested, he and Jordan would compete to see who could force more turnovers and produce more offense from defense in each game (fast break points). During the 1990 Slam Dunk Contest, Pippen exhibited his leaping ability with a dunk from the free throw line. He was an athletic finisher at the rim, both with dunks and a skillful finger roll that he added to his skill set over time. He was also a prolific perimeter shooter for the time, taking about three thousand and making almost one thousand three-pointers in his career.

Several NBA players have placed Pippen on their all-time starting lineups, some of which include Jason Kidd,[90] Michael Jordan,[91] and Karl Malone.[92]

Personal life

Although his given name is spelled Scotty on his birth certificate, Pippen usually goes by Scottie.[1] He stated that people usually shorten the name to Scott if it ends in y.[2]

Pippen has been married twice: to Karen McCollum (married 1988; divorced 1990) with whom he has a son, Antron Pippen (born 1987),[93] and to Larsa Younan (married 1997; divorced 2018), with whom he has four children, Scotty Pippen Jr. (born 2000), Preston Pippen (born 2002), Justin Pippen (born 2005), and Sophia Pippen (born 2008). Larsa starred in the TV show The Real Housewives of Miami, and is of Assyrian heritage. Scotty Jr. is a freshman on the basketball team at Southeastern Conference (SEC) Vanderbilt University.[94] Sophia appeared on the first season of Dancing with the Stars: Juniors.[95] Pippen also has a daughter, Sierra Pippen (born 1995), with his former fiancée Yvette De Leon[96] and a daughter, Taylor Pippen (born 1994), with former girlfriend and model Sonya Roby.[97] Taylor's twin sister Tyler died nine days after birth.[98] Taylor played volleyball at Southern Illinois University.[99]

A 1997 article in Sports Illustrated named him one of the three biggest "skinflints" in the NBA, along with Kevin Garnett and Shawn Kemp, and noted that restaurant workers had given him the nickname "No Tippin' Pippen" due to his horrendous to no tips.[100]

Shortly after retiring, Pippen learned that a financial adviser, whom Pippen claimed had been recommended by his team, was under investigation for bank fraud. Pippen had invested over $20 million through the adviser, Robert Lunn. In March 2016, Lunn was sentenced to three years in prison on multiple fraud counts, including forging Pippen's signature on a $1.4 million loan that Lunn used to pay off personal debts.[101]

On July 11, 2013, Camran Shafighi filed a $4 million lawsuit against Pippen in Los Angeles Superior Court over an incident that occurred on June 23, 2013, at the Malibu restaurant Nobu. Shafighi said that he was physically attacked by Pippen after taking pictures of Pippen inside and outside the restaurant. Shafighi was then taken to a hospital.[102] On August 27, 2013, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office announced that charges would not be filed against Pippen.[103]

Pippen's nephew, Kavion Pippen, plays basketball for the Austin Spurs.[104]

Career statistics

NBA statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denotes seasons in which Pippen won an NBA championship
Led the league
Regular season
1987–88 Chicago 79020.9.463.174.5763.
1988–89 Chicago 735633.1.476.273.6686.
1989–90 Chicago 828238.4.489.250.6756.
1990–91 Chicago 828236.8.520.309.7067.
1991–92 Chicago 828238.6.506.200.7607.
1992–93 Chicago 818138.6.473.237.6637.
1993–94 Chicago 727238.3.491.320.6608.
1994–95 Chicago 797938.2.480.345.7168.
1995–96 Chicago 777736.7.463.374.6796.
1996–97 Chicago 828237.7.474.368.7016.
1997–98 Chicago 444437.5.447.318.7775.
1998–99 Houston 505040.2.432.340.7216.
1999–00 Portland 828233.5.451.327.7176.
2000–01 Portland 646033.3.451.344.7395.
2001–02 Portland 626032.2.411.305.7745.
2002–03 Portland 645829.9.444.286.8184.
2003–04 Chicago 23617.9.379.271.6303.
Career 1,1781,05334.9.473.326.7046.
All-Star 7624.7.442.318.6255.
1988 Chicago 10629.4.465.500.7145.
1989 Chicago 171736.4.462.393.6407.
1990 Chicago 151440.8.495.323.7107.
1991 Chicago 171741.4.504.235.7928.
1992 Chicago 222240.9.468.250.7618.
1993 Chicago 191941.5.465.176.6386.
1994 Chicago 101038.4.434.267.8858.
1995 Chicago 101039.6.443.368.6768.
1996 Chicago 181841.2.390.286.6388.
1997 Chicago 191939.6.417.345.7916.
1998 Chicago 212139.8.415.228.6797.
1999 Houston 4443.0.329.273.80811.
2000 Portland 161638.4.419.300.7437.
2001 Portland 3339.0.421.176.6675.
2002 Portland 3333.0.409.545.8759.
2003 Portland 4118.8.409.3331.0002.
Career 20820039.0.444.303.7247.

College statistics

1983–84 Central Arkansas 20.456.6843.
1984–85 Central Arkansas 19.564.6769.21.61.518.5
1985–86 Central Arkansas 29.556.6869.23.52.419.8
1986–87 Central Arkansas 25.592.575.71910.
Career 93.563.575.6958.

Career achievements

Career highs

Stat High Opponent Date
Points 47 vs. Denver Nuggets February 18, 1997
Field goal percentage 16–17 (.941) vs. Charlotte Hornets February 23, 1991
Field goals made 19 vs. Denver Nuggets February 18, 1997
Field goal attempts (Playoffs) 35 (3 OT) vs. Phoenix Suns June 13, 1993
Free throws made, none missed 11–11 vs. Detroit Pistons March 31, 1998
Free throws made 13 at Los Angeles Clippers April 23, 1999
Free throw attempts 21 at Charlotte Hornets November 5, 1993
3-point field goals made (Playoffs) 7 at Utah Jazz June 6, 1997
3-point field goal attempts 13 at Toronto Raptors December 8, 1996
Rebounds 18 at New York Knicks March 31, 1992
Rebounds (Playoffs) 18 at Miami Heat May 1, 1996
Offensive rebounds (Playoffs) 9 vs. Los Angeles Lakers May 15, 1999
Defensive rebounds 16 (OT) vs. New York Knicks December 25, 1994
Assists 15 vs. Indiana Pacers November 30, 1990
Assists 15 vs. Washington Wizards March 16, 2002
Steals 9 vs. Atlanta Hawks March 8, 1994
Turnovers 12 (OT) at New Jersey Nets February 25, 1990
Turnovers 12 at Houston Rockets January 30, 1996
Minutes played (Playoffs) 56 (3 OT) vs. Phoenix Suns June 13, 1993


  • 21 career triple-doubles (17 regular season, 4 playoffs)
  • Led the league in steals (232) and steals per game (2.94) in 1994–95.
  • His 10 NBA All-Defensive honors and 8 NBA All-Defensive First Team honors are one shy of the NBA record.
  • Six-time NBA Champion
  • Member of the Olympic gold medal winning USA Men's National Basketball Teams in 1992 ("Dream Team I", Barcelona, Spain) and 1996 ("Dream Team III", Atlanta, USA)
  • Selected in 1996 as one of the "50 Greatest Players in NBA History"
  • Elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. The 1992 Olympic Basketball "Dream Team", of which he was a member, was also elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010.
  • Pippen is one of two NBA players known to have recorded 5 steals and 5 blocks in a playoff game, which he did against the Detroit Pistons on May 19, 1991. Hakeem Olajuwon performed the feat twice.

NBA records

Set with Michael Jordan

Ninth pair of teammates in NBA history to score 40 or more points in the same game: Chicago Bulls (110) at Indiana Pacers (102), February 18, 1996

  • Pippen: 40 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 steals in 44 minutes
  • Jordan: 44 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks in 42 minutes

One of at least three pairs of teammates in NBA history to record triple-doubles in the same game: Chicago Bulls (126) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (121), January 3, 1989 (OT)

  • Pippen: 15 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists (and 2 steals) in 42 minutes
  • Jordan: 41 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists (and 6 steals) in 47 minutes
  • Jason Kidd and Vince Carter achieved this feat as well on April 7, 2007
  • Russell Westbrook and Paul George achieved this feat as well on February 12, 2019


Steals, career: 395

Steals, quarter: 4, third quarter, vs. Milwaukee Bucks, April 29, 1990

  • Tied with many others

Other records

One of three players in NBA history to record 200 steals and 100 blocked shots in a season: 211 steals, 101 blocks (1989–90)

Second player in NBA history to lead his team in all 5 major statistics: 1,692 points, 639 rebounds, 409 assists, 232 steals and 89 blocks (1994–95)

Only player in history to win an NBA championship and Olympic gold medal in the same year twice (1992 and 1996)

Chicago Bulls franchise records

Note: Pippen is second in most career totals for the Bulls, both in the regular season and playoffs, trailing only Michael Jordan.

Regular season

Highest field goal percentage, game: .941 (16–17), vs. Charlotte Hornets, February 23, 1991

Three-point field goal attempts, career: 2,031

Personal fouls, career: 2,534

Turnovers, game: 12, twice
12, at New Jersey Nets, February 25, 1990 (OT)
12, at Houston Rockets, January 30, 1996


Three-point field goals made, career: 161

Three-point field goals made, game: 7, at Utah Jazz, June 6, 1997

Three-point field goals made, quarter: 4, second quarter, at Utah Jazz, June 6, 1997

Three-point field goals made, overtime: 1, at New York Knicks, May 11, 1996

Three-point field goal attempts, career: 531

Three-point field goal attempts, overtime: 3, at New York Knicks, May 11, 1996

Rebounds, career: 1,366

Rebounds, overtime: 3, vs. New Jersey Nets, April 24, 1998

Offensive rebounds, overtime: 2, vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, May 5, 1989

Defensive rebounds, overtime: 2, vs. New Jersey Nets, April 24, 1998

  • Tied with other players

Assists, overtime: 2, at New York Knicks, May 9, 1989

  • Tied with Derrick Rose

Steals, quarter: 4, third quarter, vs. Milwaukee Bucks, April 29, 1990

Blocked shots, career: 171

See also


  • a has listed Pippen at both 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)[3] and 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m).[12]


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