Scottie Pippen Just Slammed "Condescending" Former Teammate Michael Jordan
The NBA player opens up about The Last Dance and Jordan in his new book.
In the spring of 2020, early in the pandemic, viewers were enthralled by the docuseries The Last Dance about the Chicago Bulls' 1997-1998 season with a particular focus on Michael Jordan. But, that focus on Jordan didn't go over well with everyone. In his new memoir, Unguarded, Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen calls Jordan "condescending" and writes that he was shocked to see himself and his teammates given less recognition in the documentary than what he believes they deserve.
In an excerpt of Unguarded published by GQ, Pippen opens up about how he felt watching the docuseries and about Jordan's involvement in it. He even shares a text that Jordan sent him after the documentary aired. Read on to find out what Pippen has to say and why he was so offended by The Last Dance.
Pippen was rumored to be angry after the documentary came out.
After The Last Dance was released, reports came out that Pippen was upset about the docuseries. In May 2020, ESPN reported that people close to Pippen said he was hurt and disappointed by how he was portrayed. In an interview not long after the rumors surfaced, Pippen denied those reports and insisted that he had no issue with Jordan. Then, in a December 2020 interview with The Guardian, he said of the series, "I thought it was more about Michael trying to uplift himself and to be glorified." Jordan's production company, Jump 23, was involved in The Last Dance.
Pippen added that he had spoken to Jordan since it came out. "I told him I wasn't too pleased with it. He accepted it. He said, 'hey, you're right.' That was pretty much it," he said.
In the book, Pippen claims that Jordan was only looking out for himself.
Pippen believes that because of Jordan's involvement with production, he had too much control over the documentary's narrative. Also, as reported by ESPN, the behind-the-scenes footage from the 1997-1998 NBA season that was used in the film was not allowed to be used unless Jordan gave permission, something that was decided back when it was recorded.
"Michael was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior," Pippen writes of Jordan's motivation for doing the documentary. "So Michael presented his story, not the story of the 'Last Dance,' as our coach, Phil Jackson, billed the 1997–98 season…"
He calls Jordan "condescending."
Pippen was looking forward to watching the series at first, but this attitude quickly changed. "ESPN sent me links to the first eight episodes a couple of weeks in advance," he writes. "As I watched the doc at home in Southern California with my three teenage boys, I couldn't believe my eyes."
The former basketball player continues, "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. 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."
"On second thought," Pippen adds, "I could believe my eyes. I spent a lot of time around the man. I knew what made him tick. How naïve I was to expect anything else."
He says Jordan texted him to try to smooth things over.
When Jordan heard the reports that Pippen was upset about the documentary, Pippen says he texted him. "What's up dude? I'm getting word that you're upset with me. Love to talk about it if you have time," Pippen says Jordan wrote. "Michael was right. I was upset with him." He says he wrote back, "Let's talk tomorrow."
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Pippen wasn't compensated for the documentary.
In the book, Pippen says that he wasn't paid for participating in the documentary, but that Jordan made $10 million for it: "another reminder of the pecking order from the old days." (In April 2020, Forbes reported that Jordan would likely make at least $3 million or $4 million from the doc and would be donating the money.)
Pippen also writes that other former teammates were also upset about how The Last Dance turned out. "How dare Michael treat us that way after everything we did for him and his precious brand," he writes. "I'm not suggesting Michael wouldn't have been a superstar wherever he ended up. He was that spectacular. Just that he relied on the success we attained as a team—six titles in eight years—to propel him to a level of fame throughout the world no other athlete, except for Muhammad Ali, has reached in modern times."