The 1990s Chicago Bulls dynasty has been the poster child for success in professional sports ever since they won six championships. We were reminded of that success last summer when "The Last Dance," a six-part documentary detailed their dominance in the league and the meteoric rise of Michael Jordan both as a global and basketball star. The documentary showed just how demanding Jordan was as a player and teammate, and how despite winning six championships together, he and Scottie Pippen weren't the best of friends.
Pippen reiterated that recently in an interview with GQ, where he talked about his relationship with Jordan.
"Our relationship between the lines was impeccable," Pippen said. "We pushed each other to be great. We trained with each other to be the best. So, everything we did, from a basketball standpoint, it was a high level of respect there that we knew we could be the best. We could be dominant. We had went through pretty much the Vietnam War to get where we got to. We were battle tested."
But when asked about his relationship outside of basketball, it was completely different.
"Michael was bigger than the game, you know. Even my initial arrival to Chicago he was a big, iconic figure for the NBA (Pippen was drafted three years after Jordan). So, we never really had that off the court relationship," Pippen said.
Pippen's talked in the past about his lack of closeness with Jordan throughout their playing careers, and even said last summer that he told Jordan he "wasn't too pleased" with how the documentary failed to adequately encapsulate that dynastic run for the Bulls, and rather a way for Jordan to be "glorified."
Not all teammates need to be best friends off the floor like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were during the Heatles era, and the lack of personal relationship between Pippen and Jordan certainly didn't impact how they were on the court. But it sounds like after all these years Pippen harbors some resentment toward Jordan. Especially when he says stuff like this:
"...When you separate one individual out, then you are taking away from the sport. You're talking about who's the greatest player and this and that. You know, there's really no great players in basketball. Basketball is built on great teams. You've got "good" players. But when you talk about great players, you can only give them greatness because what? The team."
Basketball is a team sport, but to say there's no "great" players, only great teams, that's a stretch. Jordan would've been who he was regardless of the situation he was in. He was a great basketball player, and so was Pippen, but the latter can't help but to continuously knock the former down a size when given the chance.