Scottie Pippen is releasing a memoir one week from today in collaboration with Michael Arkush. He released an excerpt of that memoir via GQ today. Pippen, who has re-entered the zeitgeist over the last year thanks to The Last Dance and a new bourbon line, has a lot to say. Most of it is pretty harsh on his former teammates.
The final two episodes aired on May 17. Similar to the previous eight, they glorified Michael Jordan while not giving nearly enough praise to me and my proud teammates. Michael deserved a large portion of the blame. The producers had granted him editorial control of the final product. The doc couldn’t have been released otherwise. He was the leading man and the director.
To make things worse, Michael received $10 million for his role in the doc while my teammates and I didn’t earn a dime, another reminder of the pecking order from the old days. For an entire season, we allowed cameras into the sanctity of our locker rooms, our practices, our hotels, our huddles…our lives.
On Jordan's attitude in the doc towards Pippen:
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.
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.
Pippen revealed John Paxson, longtime general manager of the Chicago Bulls and a former teammate, reached out to see how he was feeling about the documentary at the same time MJ did. Pippen did not see it as genuine. At all.
Was receiving texts from Michael and Paxson only two days apart a coincidence? I think not.
Both were aware of how angry I was about the doc. They were checking in to make sure I wouldn’t cause any trouble: to the Bulls, who still paid Paxson as an adviser; or to Michael’s legacy, always a major concern.
Pippen went on to explain that he wanted to have a part in the Bulls' basketball operations and they seemed open to the idea, even sending him on some scouting trips in 2014. But they never gave him anything real to do and basically turned him into a mascot. Pippen did not appreciate this. It led to Paxson calling him after the docuseries aired and said he was upset at the way the Bulls handled Pippen after his playing career, leading to an emotional exchange that Pippen describes in a very uncomfortable way.
“Pip, I hated how things turned out when you came back to Chicago. This organization has always treated you poorly, and I want you to know that I think it’s not right.”
I was glad to hear Paxson admit a wrong I had known forever. Which didn’t mean I was willing to forgive him. If that, indeed, was what he was looking for. It was too late for that.
“John,” I said, “that is all fine and dandy, but you worked in the front office for the Bulls for almost twenty years. You had a chance to change that and you didn’t.”
He began to cry. Not knowing how to respond, I waited for him to stop. Why he was crying, I couldn’t be sure, and honestly, I didn’t care.
Before long, our chat was, mercifully, over.
Keep in mind, this is only an excerpt! And a fairly short one at that!
Pippen has been very open about his feelings towards The Last Dance. In some ways, he is absolutely correct. It was a documentary about Michael Jordan, not about the team. It made for outstanding content for everybody, but it would make sense that Pippen feels slighted.
Now it's looking like he's going to give his uncensored thoughts on it all and going scorched earth in the process.