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Scottie Pippen Is Reportedly Unhappy With ‘The Last Dance’

Evan Romano
·6 min read
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From Men's Health

  • Scottie Pippen is reportedly unhappy with his depiction in ESPN's 10-part documentary, The Last Dance, which is now streaming on Netflix.

  • The Last Dance focuses on Michael Jordan, the '90s Chicago Bulls, and features exclusive footage of the team's 1997-1998 championship season.

  • ESPN reported in May that Pippen feels "wounded and disappointed" by his portrayal in the series.

For fans coping with the loss of live sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN's 10-part documentary The Last Dance, which is now on Netflix, was a godsend. During its first run back in April and May, sports lovers everywhere were thrilled for two hours a week to relive the Chicago Bulls '90s dynasty that centered on Michael Jordan, and with a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it's clear that critics are on board too. One person somewhat shockingly not on board? A primary character in the documentary, Jordan's Bulls sidekick Scottie Pippen.

According to an ESPN story by Jackie MacMullan, people close to Pippen have said that he was "wounded and disappointed" by his Last Dance portrayal. Another interview in May, with former teammate Horace Grant (who also had quite a lot to say about Jordan) said that Pippen was "beyond livid" with the way the docuseries makes him look.


If you look at Pippen's social media, there's little to gauge how he feels about the ESPN documentary; he barely posted on his Instagram or his Twitter during the show's entire original April-May run. In June, when the series had been finished airing for a few weeks, Pippen shared a #TBT post, captioning it with a sick emoji, a pizza emoji, and a shrugging emoji—reference to the story told on The Last Dance that made it clear that Jordan's famous "flu game" was actually a "food poisoning" game, when he ate pizza that he now believes to have been tampered with.

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So does that mean Scottie did watch the documentary, and is OK enough with it to post about on his socials? Or is it just a story that all the old friends knew and were familiar with? It's hard to definitively say with such a vague post.

Things seemed to be OK between Pippen and MJ before the documentary, too. On February 17, Pippen wished his former teammate a happy birthday in an Instagram post. "Happy birthday to my brother!" he wrote, captioning an image of the two side-by-side on the court.

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Pippen, who was interviewed for the series, is frequently depicted as what he was: the second best player on six extremely good championship teams. But early episodes also make a major deal about his low salary, and his frustration with that low salary. When he chose not to have surgery on his injured ankle during the summer before the 1997-1998 season—so not to ruin his summer, as he says in the doc—his fall surgery wound up costing him to miss the start of the season to recover. It was a move that Jordan called "selfish" in an interview.

Another segment later in the series focuses on Pippen's refusal to re-enter a 1994 semifinals game in the final seconds, after a play was drawn up by coach Phil Jackson for rookie Toni Kukoc instead of him. "I felt like it was an insult coming from Phil," Pippen says in the documentary. "I was the most dangerous guy on our team, so why are you asking me to take the ball out?"

Pippen was the designated inbounder on the play, and instead opted to remain on the bench. The documentary shows interviews with multiple teammmates from the time saying how let down they felt with him. Steve Kerr, for one, called the decision "devastating." When Jordan discussed it in his interview, he clearly felt like this wasn't representative of who Pippen was, and that it was something that he would regret. "It's always going to come back to haunt him at some point, in some conversation," MJ said. "Pip knows better than that."

In his own interview, Pippen clearly still had strong feelings still about the moment. "It's one of those incidents where I wish it never happened," he says, "but if I had a chance to do it over again I probably wouldn't change it."

Dennis Rodman, who was a rival of Pippen's when he was with the Detroit Pistons and later became a teammate for the Bulls' latter three championship seasons, came to Pippen's defense in MacMullan's ESPN story. "I wish [Pippen] didn't give a s--- like me about what people say," Rodman says, and also insists that Pippen should be considered one of the 2-3 best to ever play in the NBA. He would, he says, if he wasn't always overshadowed by Jordan.

After Jordan's sudden retirement in 1993 and for two seasons before Rodman even joined the Bulls, Pippen was left as the lone star in Chicago. And while he didn't win the championship either season—an extremely high bar for anyone in such a tough situation—he still did the best anyone could ask of him with the hand he was dealt.

"Scottie was so underrated—and so underpaid. He should be holding his head up higher than Michael Jordan in this documentary," Rodman adds. "I think a lot of people are now realizing what he went through. The kid was a hero, in a lot of ways, during those great Bulls runs."

How To Watch The Last Dance

Regardless of his depiction in The Last Dance, Pippen's reputation in league circles and among fans is untarnished. He's a frequent guest on ESPN's NBA show The Jump, and is a fan favorite in breaking down today's game. An article by Zach Lowe, published just as The Last Dance was finishing it's run on ESPN, broke down just how much Pippen meant to the entire league. The title of that article, really, says it all: "He Was Beloved By Everybody".

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