Naive, bitter, sad, embarrassing, confusing, jealous, petty, sad, hateful.
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Those are just a few words when it comes to the word association with Scottie Pippen and his new book “Unguarded.” The book came out on Tuesday.
Pippen sounds like all those things, especially when he goes after his former teammate – and former boyfriend? – Michael Jordan.
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Pippen is unhappy with his portrayal in the ESPN-Jordan documentary “The Last Dance,” which first aired in the spring of 2020 while the NBA was on a COVID-19 hiatus. He feels belittled and wants to settle the scores in the book.
“He couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried,” wrote Pippen of Jordan’s role in ‘The Last Dance’, adding: “Here I was, in my mid-50s, seventeen years since my last game, watching us humiliated again, experiencing the first time was insulting enough.”
Pippen is on a media tour to promote and sell more copies of the book, which is published today by Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster division.
An excerpt from the book and a video Q&A ran in “GQ,” “The New York Times” ran a Q&A with Pippen, and he appeared on NBC’s “Today” Monday.
Of course he wants to sell books and the more controversy the better. But at what price? His reputation? Pippen has the right to write whatever book he wants. But the way Pippen comes across is probably not the way he wants to be remembered.
To some extent, Pippen is somehow misguided and misleading – his anger at Jordan in particular.
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While sifting through Jordan in the book, a decade ago, Pippen also asked Jordan to be his host at the 2010 Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony.
Pippen wanted Jordan to attend one of the most special events of his professional career, and in his Hall of Fame address, Pippen said, “MJ, you touched so many people’s lives, but none like mine. Thank you for being the best teammate. I will always cherish that experience and I will cherish our relationship forever.”
Whatever has changed, it’s not looking good for Pippen.
Pippen seems jealous of Jordan, which doesn’t make sense for several reasons.
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As a basketball player, Pippen is respected. He made the league’s 50 greatest players 25 years ago, is on this season’s 75 greatest players list, and was ranked as the 22nd greatest player in NBA history in USA TODAY’s recent list. He is a Hall of Famer, six-time champion, seven-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA performer, ten-time All-Defense and two-time Olympic gold medalist.
What he brought to court is beyond dispute. His game is recognized.
His fights are petty, such as his complaint that Jordan made $10 million from “The Last Dance.” Ignoring that Jordan donated the revenue is unfair and given Jordan’s role as an executive producer, it’s naive to think Jordan wouldn’t see any financial benefits. Without Jordan signing the project nearly three decades ago, the behind-the-scenes footage would not have been possible. There is no ‘Last Dance’ without Jordan or his approval.
If Pippen was surprised that the documentary was all about Jordan and Jordan’s perspective, it’s Pippen’s ignorance. We all know who Michael Jordan is in that regard. Of course it would be about him. And that’s what fans wanted to see.
What do you think LeBron James’s documentary will look like in 20 years? Some of the same NBA Entertainment filmmakers who had access to Jordan have similar exclusive access to James. That will be James’ slant, not Kyrie Irving’s, not Kevin Love’s, not Anthony Davis’s, not even Dwyane Wade’s.
The doc also revealed some of Jordan’s flaws. It’s no surprise that his unique pursuit of winning was sometimes off-putting. It’s who he was as a competitor. As we know, Pippen has always felt belittled — like when Phil Jackson led a late-game play for Toni Kukoc instead of Pippen, and Pippen refused to join the game.
Pippen showed us part of who he is then and part of who he is now.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: Scottie Pippen’s hits on Michael Jordan may sell more books, but will cost his reputation dearly