Scottie Pippen Blasts Michael Jordan Over The Last Dance

The hit ESPN documentary series The Last Dance may have gone over well with critics and Michael Jordan fans, but the iconic NBA star’s former teammate Scottie Pippen isn’t impressed. While most of us who were watching the docuseries at home weren’t a part of it as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, Pippen was able to watch with a much different point of view. And now he’s putting Jordan and the filmmakers on blast.

In Pippen’s new book Unguarded, the NBA legend opens up about his thoughts on The Last Dance, and they aren’t pretty. Ahead of its release, GQ published an excerpt from the book detailing Pippen’s relationship with Michael Jordan and the fallout from The Last Dance. As Pippen says in the biography, he was mostly upset with Jordan keeping himself in the spotlight while making the other power players of the Chicago Bulls seem far less important to the team’s success.

“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. I had expected much more.”

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The way Scottie Pippen sees it, the Chicago Bulls were able to become so successful through the efforts of the whole team. He does admit that Jordan was a phenomenal player and was likely to find success in the NBA regardless of which team he wound up on, but joining up with the Bulls brought him to heights he never would have achieved otherwise, says Pippen. He also alleges that Jordan had The Last Dance made in part to outshine LeBron James, who often gets compared to Jordan as the “GOAT” of the NBA.

“To be a member of the Bulls during the 1990s was to be part of something magical. For our times and for all time. Except Michael was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day-and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior. So Michael presented his story, not the story of the ‘Last Dance,’ as our coach, Phil Jackson, billed the 1997-98 season once it became obvious the two Jerrys (owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause) were intent on breaking up the gang no matter what happened.”

Pippen goes on to describe his reaction to watching the ESPN series for the first time. He notes how the spotlight was continuously shining on “number 23” right from the very start, making Pippen feel like he was “nothing more than a prop.” When Jordan referred to Pippen as his “best teammate of all time,” Pippen says that Michael “couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried.” And that feeling didn’t improve as the docuseries went on.

“Each episode was the same: Michael on a pedestal, his teammates secondary, smaller, the message no different from when he referred to us back then as his ‘supporting cast.’ From one season to the next, we received little or no credit whenever we won but the bulk of the criticism when we lost. Michael could shoot 6 for 24 from the field, commit 5 turnovers, and he was still, in the minds of the adoring press and public, the Errorless Jordan. 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.”

According to Pippen, he spoke with many old former teammates who felt the same way as he did. He argues that Jordan would never have been Jordan without being a part of a team that also included the likes of names like Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, and Dennis Rodman, among others. Allegedly hogging all of the credit aside, Pippen also feels miffed that the Space Jam star netted a cool $10 million for the doc while the other Bulls stars didn’t see a cent.

Scottie Pippen’s memoir, Unguarded, is out on Nov. 9. You can read the full excerpt at GQ.

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