Apparently, so does Scottie Pippen.
What I was told yesterday, he is so angry at Michael – and how he was portrayed, called selfish, called this, called that – that he’s furious that he participated and did not realize what he was getting himself into. Very upset.
He felt that – up until the last few minutes of Game 6 against the Jazz – it was just bash Scottie, bash Scottie, bash Scottie. As one of his friends said to me yesterday, he’s one of the top 21 players, according to ESPN, in the history of the sport. He said, and prior to the last seven minutes of the documentary on Sunday night in episode 10, all it was was the migraines, the surgery, Michael calling him selfish, his contract. He said every single thing you showed about him, basically, was negative. And he is beyond livid.
Multiple teammates of his – multiple – have all felt Scottie got a raw deal in the documentary, and they’re furious.
Nothing in the documentary made Pippen look worse than Pippen himself. He made the indefensible statement that he stands by his refusal to enter with 1.8 seconds left in Game 3 of Bulls-Knicks in 1994. That’s on him.
Jordan mixed praise and criticism of Pippen throughout “The Last Dance.” Jordan said, “Whenever they speak Michael Jordan, they should speak Scottie Pippen. … Everybody says I won all these championships. But I didn’t win without Scottie Pippen.” Jordan also called Pippen wrong for delaying surgery in 1997, Pippen opting be laid up during the season rather than the summer.
But Pippen did frequently complain about his contract. He did demand a trade multiple times. These are important points to cover in Chicago’s story.
So was the migraine game.
Pippen struggled in the Bulls’ loss to the Pistons in Game 7 of the 1990 Eastern Conference finals due to a migraine. Jordan’s response in the documentary raised a few eyebrows:
To anyone who didn’t know the full story, that was probably a forgettable scene. But there was something to Jordan’s wording, his tone, his facial expression. It brought back a time when doubt persisted about whether Pippen actually had a migraine.
The migraine in Game 7, for those of us who thought Pippen was too soft anyway, was confirmation that his psyche was fragile. A Chicago columnist suggested the Bulls should check the “Missing Pippens Bureau.” Fans in NBA arenas would scream, “Scottie, got a headache?” The Pistons, among others, would snicker within his earshot or jostle him needlessly. “Dennis Rodman still does it in games,” Jordan said Sunday.
So many people believe that if Pippen did have a migraine it was brought on by a fear of the Pistons in general, defensive ace Dennis Rodman specifically.
But there probably always will be a little migraine in the Bulls’ lore; after a sub-par 22-point showing in Game 1 of the recent Eastern finals against Detroit, Bull guard Michael Jordan quipped, “I may have had a headache today.”
Pippen said he hasn’t had a headache since last year’s Piston finale, although he couldn’t tell you why. The only change he has made is that he wears glasses off the court, but the Bulls say his vision was only slightly off and not enough to cause a migraine. More than likely, they say, it was a combination of the slight vision problem and the stress of his father’s death.
Reports like that might at least partially explain why Pippen is sensitive about his portrayal in the media.
Maybe “The Last Dance” could have spent more time on Pippen’s positive on-court contributions. But this was a documentary about Jordan first and foremost. He’s the draw. Pippen’s play was also steady and understated, difficult to accentuate in this format. His surrounding nonsense – and there was plenty, more than “The Last Dance” got into – was far more vivid.
Yet, I thought “The Last Dance” still presented him mostly favorably overall – deservedly so.