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Why Scottie Pippen Reportedly Isn't Happy With 'The Last Dance'

The much-anticipated, 10-part ESPN docuseries The Last Dance has garnered tons of positive press for its never-before-seen coverage of Michael Jordan's final championship with the Chicago Bulls. Critics of the docuseries have noted, however, that the story is inherently biased, since the person doing the storytelling (Jordan) was also involved in the process of making it. One of the aspects that has garnered the most division among fans is the portrayal of Jordan's teammate Scottie Pippen. Pippen, who spoke candidly about his life and career, was widely considered Jordan's right-hand man when the two played for the Chicago Bulls. But the series takes aim at some of the disagreements between the two players—and Pippen is reportedly upset with his portrayal.

'The Last Dance' portrays Pippen as underpaid and frustrated.

In the series, Jordan says that Pippen's the best teammate he ever had and that he wouldn't have had as much success without Pippen. Yet, the series does delve into how frustrated Pippen felt about making far less than his teammates. Rumors were rampant that he might be traded to another team—and Pippen chose not to have surgery on his ruptured ankle tendon until the start of the 1997-8 season (which the documentary covers). Jordan called the move "selfish" because it left the rest of his teammates to play several months without him.

In a later episode, an incident in which Pippen sat out the final seconds of a 1994 semifinals game is pretty harshly criticized—and Pippen apparently still has angry feelings about what happened as well. He maintains that the situation was complex and that his feelings were and are valid. "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."

Despite the scrutiny and disagreements, the two former players were close at the time and were at least still close in February, when Pippen wished Jordan a happy birthday:

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Happy birthday to my brother!

A post shared by Scottie Pippen (@scottiepippen) on

Pippen isn't happy about how 'The Last Dance' turned out.

Pippen gave interviews for the series and did have the opportunity to talk about his feelings of frustration about being underpaid and undervalued. In the wake of The Last Dance, though, he's been quiet about it. People close to him say he's "wounded and disappointed." And even Dennis Rodman, who's also a fellow ex-teammate, came to his defense.

"I wish he didn't give a shit like me about what people say," he says (referencing how Pippen takes criticism to heart). He insists that Pippen's one of the best players of all time, "but no one could ever quite see him. He was too quiet, and he was always standing next to Michael Jordan."

"Scottie was so underrated—and so underpaid. He should be holding his head up higher than Michael Jordan in this documentary," he added. "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."

And he's apparently "beyond livid."

According to ESPN 1000's David Kaplan, Pippen isn't just wounded—he's furious. "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," Kaplan said.

"He felt like up until the last few minutes of Game 6 against the Jazz, it was just 'bash Scottie, bash Scottie, bash Scottie.'"

Pippen's apparently not the only team member who's upset about the portrayal. Pundits Michael Wilbon and Jackie McMullan agree that Pippen got a bad rap:

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Horace Grant, who played with Jordan on the Bulls until 1993, went even further by defending Pippen and calling Jordan a "snitch" for outing fellow teammates' behavior: "I would say [it was] entertaining, but we know, who was there as teammates, that about 90 percent of it—I don't know if I can say it on air, but B.S. in terms of the realness of it." He added, "It wasn't real, because a lot of things [Jordan] said to some of his teammates, that his teammates went back at him. But all of that was kind of edited out of the documentary, if you want to call it a documentary."

It's worth noting, though, that Pippen hasn't spoken on record and in June posted a throwback of him and Jordan during the epic "flu game" (which we now know was probably food poisoning), which was actually covered in the series:

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#TBT 🤒🍕🤷🏾‍♂️

A post shared by Scottie Pippen (@scottiepippen) on

So perhaps things are in a better place now? With the series coming to Netflix on July 19, who knows whether that'll stir up any controversy again.


Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that Jordan picked another player in the 1994 semifinals, causing Pippen to sit out the game. We apologize for the error.

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