Scottie Pippen Was Never Going to Enjoy 'The Last Dance'

Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen / Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

One of the ripple effects from The Last Dance that wasn't necessarily considered was the spotlight that would be shone not only on Michael Jordan, but the characters who made up his supporting cast in the 90s. Horace Grant, B.J. Armstrong, and Scott Burrell have all had their moments both in the documentary and on television talking about it afterwards (and, in the case of Grant, an opportunity to fire back at Jordan in the media).

Scottie Pippen, however, has not done a single follow-up interview for The Last Dance. This is because he's rather upset with the way he was portrayed in the ESPN production. Jackie MacMullan wrote in the first week of May that he was "wounded and disappointed" by the documentary. Pippen was the perfect running mate for Jordan, but the soundbites about Pippen that came from The Last Dance were mostly about his contract dispute and his decision to sit out the final play of a playoff game because Phil Jackson drew up a play for Toni Kukoc.

But Pippen was never going to enjoy The Last Dance because it's the Scottie Pippen story as told by Michael Jordan. This is the case for everyone else, but it's easy to understand how it's harder to swallow for him. Pippen's entire career (and given the sheer power of Jordan's influence, probably most of his adult life) was overshadowed by playing next to the greatest player of all time. The documentary could have been an opportunity to shine light on just how important Pippen's skills were to the Bulls' dynasty, and it did, to an extent. People who didn't or couldn't watch those Bulls teams came away with an understanding that Jordan's path would have been significantly more difficult without Pippen by his side.

But this was Jordan's story, and in Jordan's story, who stood in his way was more important than who stood by his side. His Bulls teammates have since come out and defended Pippen's decision to delay surgery ahead of the 1997-98 season as a contract negotiation tactic, but when Jordan labels it selfish, his word may as well be gospel. In a similar manner, Pippen's anger at not getting the last shot in the biggest game of his only solo season without Jordan wasn't about Pippen earning that right or the fact that the team wouldn't have been in that spot without him. It was to show the Bulls weren't the Bulls without Jordan. As it was for his entire career, everything Pippen did led back to Jordan, one way or the other.

Nobody sees themselves as a side character in their life's story. In the minds of millions around the world, it's Jordan and Pippen, in that order. You can bet Pippen doesn't think like that. He obviously had the wherewithal to know that was Jordan's team and he wasn't the No. 1 guy. Chicago wouldn't have had the success they did otherwise. That doesn't mean he was going to enjoy being shoehorned as such in a 10-hour special about Jordan's life.

In Pippin's life, it was always about the other guy. That's a tough spot to be in for anybody, much less a person with the mindset required to be a professional basketball player. The fact that he's disappointed in how The Last Dance portrayed his role isn't a surprise.