“His ‘best teammate of all time,’ he called me. He couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried.”
Scottie Pippen’s “livid” initial reaction to 2020’s The Last Dance has spilled over into his new memoir, Unguarded.
The 10-part ESPN documentary highlighting Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ chase of the franchise’s sixth NBA title from 1997-98 was lauded by fans and lambasted by some of MJ’s former teammates, Pippen included.
Now Pippen is expanding on what seriously rubbed him the wrong way in an excerpt from Unguarded published by GQ.
“As I watched the doc at home in Southern California with my three teenage boys, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said of the very first episode, which largely covers Jordan’s journey to the NBA. “On and on it went, the spotlight shining on number 23”
“Even in the second episode, which focused for a while on my difficult upbringing and unlikely path to the NBA, the narrative returned to MJ and his determination to win,” Pippen continued.
“I was nothing more than a prop. His ‘best teammate of all time,’ he called me. He couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried.”
Pippen’s problems continued throughout series. From his perspective, Jordan was “glorified” with impunity while the team took a backseat, regardless of their respective performances.
“Michael on a pedestal, his teammates secondary, smaller, the message no different from when he referred to us back then as his ‘supporting cast.’
“From one season to the next, we received little or no credit whenever we won but the bulk of the criticism when we lost. Michael could shoot 6 for 24 from the field, commit 5 turnovers, and he was still, in the minds of the adoring press and public, the Errorless Jordan. “
“Now here I was, in my midfifties, seventeen years since my final game, watching us being demeaned once again. Living through it the first time was insulting enough. Michael Jordan would never have been Michael Jordan without me, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, John Paxson, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, Bill Cartwright, Ron Harper, B. J. Armstrong, Luc Longley, Will Perdue, and Bill Wennington. I apologize to anyone I’ve left out.”
Adding salt in the wound is the fact that the former bulls who appeared in the doc weren’t paid, while Jordan took home $10 million, at least according to Pippen. However, Variety reported that Jordan’s actual earnings were between $3 and $4 million, all of which he pledged to to donate to charity.
Ultimately, Pippen says that “Michael presented his story, not the story of [the Bulls’] ‘Last Dance.’”
Priced from $14.99 on Amazon, Unguarded is available to preorder now ahead of its November 9 release.