Michael Jordan declared Scottie Pippen his ‘best teammate of all-time’ in the April 19 premiere of ESPN’s 10-part documentary, ‘The Last Dance.’ Episodes 1 and 2 uncovered Jordan and Pippen’s close relationship and their origin stories.
Even the casual NBA fan has at least heard of the dynamic duo that was Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. The Chicago Bulls legends, who won six championships together in the ’90s, are arguably the best NBA duo to ever take the hardwood. Therefore, it’s only fitting that episodes one and two of ESPN’s 10-part documentary The Last Dance, dissected the relationship between MJ and Pippen — along with the narrative of Pippen’s tumultuous relationship with the Bulls organization over salary and trade disputes. Despite the latter, Scottie was and always will be MJ’s right hand man.
“He helped me so much in the way I approached the game, in the way I played the game. Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen,” Jordan declared. “I didn’t win without Pippen. And that’s why I consider him my best teammate of all time.”
Jordan and Scottie’s relationship was in part defined by their willingness to win at all costs. MJ never won a playoff series without him. When Scottie wasn’t on the floor, Jordan had to work twice as hard to keep the Bulls afloat, especially during their journey to ring No. 6. At one point in the documentary, footage of an angry and frustrated Jordan showed him “screaming” at his Bulls teammates when Scottie was out with a ruptured tendon in his ankle.
Alongside MJ in 1997-98, Scottie ranked No. 1 in assists and steals and No. 2 in scoring, rebounds and minutes played. Yet, he ranked 6th on the Bulls in salary and 122nd in the NBA in salary. — Something that would eventually drive Scottie, who was one of the best players in the league at that time, to resent the Bulls front office (specifically GM Jerry Krause), and later demand a trade.
Scottie had signed a seven-year, $18 million contract in 1991 that was set to expire after the 1997-98 season. The fed up Bulls forward went on to play for the Houston Rockets in 1998-99 and the Portland Trail Blazers (1999 to 2003) before finishing his NBA career with the Bulls in 2003-04.
The first two episodes of The Last Dance took a deep dive into the origin stories of Jordan and Pippen. First, we got a look inside their upbringings, before their individual journeys to stardom were dissected year by year. Additionally, there were two prominent cameos from past presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who spoke about Jordan’s ability to change the way sports were viewed in Chicago.
The Last Dance takes look back at the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty through the lens of the final championship season in 1997-98. The Bulls allowed an NBA Entertainment crew to follow them around for that entire season, and some of that never-before-seen footage will be in the documentary. ESPN spoke to more than 100 people close to the team and personalities who experienced the championship run, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and more.
ESPN will air two new episodes of Michael Jordan’s The Last Dance every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET until May 17. Be sure to check back at HollywoodLife for weekly recaps.