Scottie Pippen's horrible contract was one of the big takeaways from the first two episodes of The Last Dance. Pippen was the sixth-highest paid player on the '97-'98 Chicago Bulls and the 122nd-highest paid player in the entire league. His salary was $2.775 million, compared to Michael Jordan's $33.14 million.
Luc Longley, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc, and Dennis Rodman also made more than Pippen. There is no doubt he was the best deal in the entire NBA and maybe one of the best in all of sports during his time with the Bulls because of a 5-year, $18 million contract that he signed in the early 90's because he wanted to ensure the financial security of himself and his family in case he was ever seriously injured.
In the end, it worked out for Pippen, as his wife pointed out on Twitter last night. At the time, his deal was incredibly unfair, but in the long run, everything ended up okay for him. Even if Michael Jordan did call Pippen selfish in a documentary more than 20 years later.
The entire thing is incredibly fascinating to look back on as NBA salaries from the Bulls' dynasty years are unrecognizable compared to the ones players have today. Back in 2016, when LeBron James signed a three-year, $100 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he became the first player to eclipse Jordan's yearly salary in 1997-98. That three-year deal was also worth more in total than Jordan's career on-court earnings.
That seems crazy, but every max deal signed since then has also been worth more in total than the $93 million Jordan earned over the years with the Bulls and Wizards. Nine players in the '19-'20 season had a base salary higher than Jordan's then-record $33 million back in '97. Seven more were within a million dollars and twenty players had deals worth more than $30 million this season.
As for Pippen, he ended up making more over his career than Jordan, as his wife brought to everyone's attention last evening. In '97-'98, Pippen's 10th season with the Bulls, he made $2.775 million. In '94-'95, Jordan's 10th season with Chicago, he only made $3.85 million. If you thought Scottie Pippen was underpaid, how about the three-time champion, three time MVP, three-time NBA Finals MVP making about a million more only three years prior?
Everyone involved in either of the Bulls' three-peats was criminally underpaid considering what they did for the team, city, league, and sport. Pippen is just the only one who was smart enough to complain.