While he once considered Michael Jordan to be basketball’s “greatest” player, Scottie Pippen’s opinion of his celebrated former teammate has changed significantly. This week, Pippen, 57, claimed that Jordan, 60, was a “terrible player” until they joined forces with the Chicago Bulls in 1987.
“I watched Michael Jordan play before I joined the Bulls,” Pippen said in a video that has since gone viral. “He was terrible to play with, he was one-on-one, he shoots bad shots. Suddenly we become a team and we start winning, everyone forgot who he was.’
Pippen not only belittled Jordan, but did so while elevating LeBron James, whom he called “the greatest statistical man to ever play basketball.”
Such criticism of Jordan by the proverbial ‘Robin’ on his ‘Batman’ isn’t a complete shock, but rather the latest chapter in an ever-worsening feud. Their relationship came under strain after the release of ESPN’s 2020 docuseries about the 1997-98 Bulls, The Last Dance, and it only got worse when Jordan’s adult son began dating Pippen’s ex-wife, Larsa .
So how did the Jordan-Pippen partnership become so frayed?
— Die-Hard Chicago Bulls fans (@DieHardCBfans) May 26, 2023
Scottie Pippen poses with Michael Jordan at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Jordan’s son Marcus (right), 32, is now dating Pippen’s ex-wife Larsa (left), 48
Things went well between the two in the years after they retired.
Pippen fondly described Jordan during his own Hall of Fame induction speech in 2010: “MJ, you touched so many lives, but none quite like mine. Thank you for being the best teammate; I will always cherish that experience and I will cherish our relationship forever.”
Similarly, Jordan credited Pippen for their six championships together in Chicago during his introductory speech a year earlier.
‘In all the videos you never just saw me; you’ve seen Scottie Pippen,” Jordan said. “Every championship I’ve won.”
Their collaboration is legendary.
Jordan was one of the NBA’s preeminent stars when Pippen was acquired by the Bulls in a one-day run in 1987.
Enter Pippen, a former six-foot guard turned six-foot dynamic forward in unheralded Central Arkansas.
Pippen (#33) and Jordan (#23) enjoyed two separate three-peats as members of the Bulls
Pippen’s arrival in Chicago, coupled with Phil Jackson’s promotion to Bulls head coach in 1989, became the catalyst that turned a woeful franchise into a six-time NBA champion.
Not only did they win six titles together, but the pair remained fiercely loyal.
In fact, in 2018, Pippen told ESPN that Jordan was “the greatest player to ever put on shoes and play in our game.”
He even retracted a comparison between Jordan and James: “I’m always asked to compare him to LeBron, and I try to make the best of it. But actually that comparison should never be made.’
More recently, however, Pippen’s praise for Jordan has descended into something entirely different.
Pippen’s troubles began with ESPN’s ‘Last Dance’ docuseries, which aired in 2020 to great acclaim.
The problem, from Pippen’s point of view, is that Jordan seemed to be credited with the Bulls’ success in the 1990s, while his teammates were seen as minor players.
“They glorified Michael Jordan while not giving me and my proud teammates nearly enough praise,” Pippen, 57, wrote in his memoir, Unguarded, due out in 2021. “Michael deserved a big chunk of the debt. The producers had granted him editorial control over the final product. The doc could not have been released otherwise. He was the protagonist and the director.’
Jordan and Pippen watch the Charlotte Bobcats take on the Bulls in Chicago in 2011
As a result, Pippen claims, the documentary felt fake.
“I don’t think it was that accurate in terms of really defining what’s been accomplished in one of basketball’s greatest eras, but also by two of its greatest players — and you could even put that aside and say the best team in history.” all time,” Pippen told The Guardian in December 2020.
‘I didn’t think those things stood out in the documentary. I thought it was more about Michael trying to elevate himself and be glorified. I think it also backfired to some extent by giving people a chance to see what kind of personality Michael had.”
But Pippen may have a separate problem with Last Dance, stemming from the criticism he received from Jordan in the docuseries.
In particular, Jordan addressed Pippen’s reluctance to undergo necessary ankle surgery before the 1997–98 season.
Although he eventually underwent the procedure, he waited until much of the off-season to do so, and as a result played until January.
And according to Jordan, Scottie’s reluctance to have the surgery was a result of his contract dispute with Bulls general manager Jerry Krause.
“Scottie was wrong in that scenario,” Jordan said. “He could have had the surgery done as soon as the season was over and be ready for the season.
“What Scottie was trying to do was try to force management to change his contract. Jerry wouldn’t do that. So now I have to start the season knowing that Scottie will be gone.”
As a result, the Bulls got off to a somewhat disappointing 24–11 start that season, though they still went on to win their sixth title combined.
Larsa Pippen (left) and Marcus Jordan (right) are seen in Miami, Florida, on May 7
Complicating matters further is the romantic relationship between Pippen’s ex-wife, 48-year-old Larsa, and Jordan’s 32-year-old son, Marcus.
“Marcus and Larsa are dating and have been spending more time together in recent weeks,” a source told Us Weekly in 2022 after the pair were seen in public. “They’re trying to keep it low because of the rift between Scottie and Michael.”
Pippen and Larsa were married for almost 20 years and had four children together before divorcing in 2021.
Larsa candidly described their relationship on an episode of Real Housewives of Miami, saying the couple had intercourse four times a night for 23 years.
“I’ve been married for 23 years, I’ve always had sex up to four times a night,” she said. “So three times a week is nothing… I had sex four times a night, every night. I’ve never had a day off in 23 years.’
When other cast members suggested that Marcus had “big shoes to fill,” Larsa insisted he had nothing to worry about.
“Well, he’s a size 45 shoe, so I think he’s okay,” she said.
Ahmad Rashad, Larsa Pippen, Scottie Pippen, Yvette Prieto and Michael Jordan attend the surprise birthday celebration for Scottie Pippen at Sunda on September 24, 2012
Apparently progress has been made with Larsa and Marcus.
In February, Larsa called him her “forever Valentine” on Instagram.
As was the case with Jordan’s feud with rival Isiah Thomas during their playing days, or his recent friction with longtime friend Charles Barkley, the Hall of Famer has avoided speaking publicly on the matter.
Jordan and Pippen were only seen smiling and cuddling during a game in 2016, but it remains to be seen whether they will embark on a partnership that resulted in six NBA titles in Chicago.