Scottie Pippen lashes out at Michael Jordan for ‘Last Dance’ rendition

The world has seen a new Scottie Pippen in 2021. After the release of the Michael Jordan-directed documentary “The Last Dance,” which is about the Chicago Bulls from 1997-1998, Pippen begins to speak out about how he feels about Jordan and the producers threw him into the program, and other behind-the-scenes events that didn’t make it into the final cut.

Pippen’s feelings about “The Last Dance” will be fully expressed in his upcoming memoir “Unguarded”, which is out November 9. GQ got an exclusive excerpt of the book, and it’s all about Pippen’s reaction to looking at the document.

It starts with Pippen receiving a text from Jordan, who had heard that his former teammate was upset. And Pippen was angry. He was angry at how he and his teammates had been portrayed in “The Last Dance” as mere bit players rather than vital and important parts of a championship team. And Pippen knew who to blame.

The last two episodes aired on May 17. Like the previous eight, they glorified Michael Jordan, while not praising me and my proud teammates nearly enough. Michael deserved much of the blame. The producers had given him editorial control over the final product. Otherwise, the document could not have been released. He was the leading man and the director.

Pippen felt like a ‘gap’

In the clip, Pippen wrote that he thinks Jordan’s desire to prove he’s better than LeBron James drove his decision to make “The Last Dance” all about him. The documentary devoted some time to Pippen’s past, but Pippen was unhappy with the way he had been portrayed.

Even in the second episode, which for a while focused on my difficult upbringing and unlikely path to the NBA, the story returned to MJ and his determination to win. 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’d tried.

On closer inspection, I could believe my eyes. I spent a lot of time with the man. I knew what drove him. How naive I was to expect anything else.

Every episode was the same: Michael on a pedestal, his teammates secondary, smaller, the message no different than when he called us his “supporting cast” at the time. From one season to the next we got little or no appreciation when we won, but most 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 admiring press and the public, the Faultless Jordan.

ZHUZHOU, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 22: NBA legend Scottie Pippen attends the PGA Tour Series China - Zhuzhou Classic at Xiangshui Bay Golf Club on September 22, 2019 in Zhuzhou, China's Hunan province.  (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

It’s been over a year, but Scottie Pippen is still quite impressed with how Michael Jordan portrayed him and his teammates in “The Last Dance.” (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Pippen speaks with former teammates

Pippen wrote that he heard from some of his former Bulls teammates in the aftermath of “The Last Dance,” and they all expressed the same anger and frustration at Jordan relegating them to also-rans on their own championship team.

In the weeks that followed, I spoke to some of my former teammates who all felt as disrespected as I did. How dare Michael treat us like that after all we’ve done for him and his precious brand. Michael Jordan would never have been Michael Jordan without me, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, John Paxson, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, Bill Cartwright, Ron Harper, BJ Armstrong, Luc Longley, Will Perdue and Bill Wennington. I apologize to anyone I left out.

I’m not suggesting that Michael wouldn’t have been a superstar wherever he ended up. He was that spectacular. Only that he relied on the success we achieved as a team – six titles in eight years – to propel him to a level of fame around the world that no other athlete, except Muhammad Ali, has achieved in modern times.

Pippen spends a lot of time on the clip talking about his interactions with Paxson, who played for the Bulls during their first two championships and later became an NBA manager. According to Pippen, he and Paxson developed animosity towards each other after Pippen retired in the middle of a two-year deal Paxson offered him as GM of the Bulls. After that incident, Pippen wrote that Paxson deliberately ignored all of Pippen’s desires to get more involved with the franchise.

Paxson texted Pippen just days after Jordan did. In the clip, Pippen describes what may be one of the most awkward phone calls ever.

On May 22, 2020, the day after Paxson sent his text, we spoke on the phone for two minutes. He got to the point:

“Pip, I hated how things went when you got back to Chicago. This organization has always treated you badly and I want you to know that I don’t think it’s right.”

I was happy to hear that Paxson admitted to a mistake I’d always known. Which didn’t mean I wanted to forgive him. If that was indeed what he was looking for. It was too late for that.

“John,” I said, “that’s all well and good, but you’ve worked in the Bulls’ front office for almost 20 years. You had the chance to change that and you didn’t.”

He started to cry. Not knowing how to react, I waited for him to stop. Why he was crying I wasn’t sure, and frankly I didn’t care.

It didn’t take long for our conversation to be over.

The lesson here? Don’t get on the wrong side of Scottie Pippen.

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