It’s safe to say that Scottie Pippen isn’t happy with the way he and his teammates were portrayed in “The Last Dance,” the ESPN documentary about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls that released last year.
In an excerpt obtained by GQ, Pippen expresses his belief that Jordan was placed “on a pedestal” both on and off the screen. In the documentary, he claims that the “condescending” baller, who had “editorial control of the final product,” focused primarily on his accomplishments, noting that his own appearance on an episode was “nothing more than a prop.”
“In the second episode, which focused for a while on my difficult upbringing and the unlikely path to the NBA, the narrative returned to MJ and his determination to win,” he writes. “I was nothing more than a prop. His ‘best teammate of all time,’ he called me. He couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried.”
Pippen also reveals that Jordan’s importance over other members of the team was displayed in the earnings they made from the documentary. “Michael received $10 million for his role in the doc while my teammates and I didn’t earn a dime, another reminder of the pecking order from the old days,” writes the former small forward. “For an entire season, we allowed cameras into the sanctity of our locker rooms, our practices, our hotels, our huddles…our lives.”
“Michael on a pedestal, his teammates secondary, smaller, the message no different from when he referred to us back then as his ‘supporting cast,’” he continues. “From one season to the next, we received little or no credit whenever we won but the bulk of the criticism when we lost.”
In an effort to make matters clear, Pippen admits that Jordan was “spectacular” but insists that he would have “never have become” a superstar “without me” and the other Bulls players.
The legend, he adds, “relied on the success we attained as a team—six titles in eight years—to propel him to a level of fame throughout the world no other athlete, except for Muhammad Ali, has reached in modern times.”
He also took the opportunity to dispel rumors about his friendship with Jordan. “Michael and I aren’t close and never have been,” Pippen explained.