The ESPN docuseries The Last Dance, now streaming on Netflix, covers—among other things—the professional and personal relationship between Chicago Bulls teammates Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (opens in new tab). The two do speak highly of each other at some points; Jordan, who was involved in the making of the series, expresses admiration for his former teammate, and in particular their ability to play well together. But a good chunk of the documentary also covers some of the disagreements between the two, including Pippen's decision to have surgery at the beginning of the Bulls' 1997-8 season (the year that the series primarily covers).
Pippen is reportedly unhappy with his portrayal, with sources telling Yahoo he feels "wounded and disappointed." (opens in new tab) It's not totally clear exactly how the two felt about each other before all of this happened, but the fact that Pippen agreed to go on the series in the first place and their expressed admiration for each other speaks to at least a mutual respect. So where do things stand now? A little bit of this is TBD, since neither Jordan nor Pippen have commented officially. But here's what we do know.
Pippen and Jordan have seemed friendly in the last few years.
Reports differ on how close the former teammates actually are—and frankly, much of that is speculation anyways, since the two aren't giving us minute-by-minute details of their relationship. But we do know the two seemed to respect each other even after they stopped playing together. Not only that, but they've been seen together in public since.
The two were spotted sitting together at a Bulls game in 2011 (the Bulls apparently won, and the whole experience must have been so cool):
The two also reunited on the court (opens in new tab) briefly in 2017 for a "friendly shooting competition" with students from Jordan's Flight School basketball camp.
Pippen also regularly posts throwbacks from their time as teammates:
And in February, Pippen wished Jordan a happy birthday with a sweet caption:
Jordan doesn't have personal social media. But in an interview, when asked to select his all-time top five, Pippen was at the top of the list:
But Pippen is reportedly unhappy about 'The Last Dance.'
Pippen has not officially commented about Jordan's series. Unlike other players, who have given interviews since, he's been quiet. Former teammate Dennis Rodman came to his defense, saying, "He should be holding his head up higher than Michael Jordan in this documentary...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."
ESPN 1000's David Kaplan (opens in new tab) went even further, saying, "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," adding, "He felt like up until the last few minutes of Game 6 against the Jazz, it was just 'bash Scottie, bash Scottie, bash Scottie.'" Other pundits have come to Pippen's defense (opens in new tab) in reference to the coverage.
Former Bulls player Horace Grant was probably the most vocal about the documentary in general, calling Jordan a "snitch" for outing other players' bad behavior in the early years of Jordan's time on the team. Regarding Pippen, Grant said, "I have never seen a 'number two guy' [as] decorated as Scottie Pippen portrayed so badly...in all of my life...Why was that 1.7 seconds in the so-called documentary? MJ wasn't even on the team." [This is referring to one of the more controversial moments in the series, a detailed reminder that Pippen refused to enter a 1994 semifinals game in the final seconds because he felt slighted by coach Phil Jackson. Jordan, at the time, had retired from the sport, shortly after his father had been killed (opens in new tab). He would later return to the Bulls in 1995.]
Despite all this potential acrimony, on June 11, Pippen posted a throwback to the 1997 "flu game (opens in new tab)" (now passed into basketball legend because Jordan was visibly unwell and yet gave an absolute stellar performance), with updated references to what The Last Dance revealed: That the "flu" was really food poisoning, and there's even speculation it might have been intentional.
It's a moment of levity among all this coverage about disharmony between the two. So maybe things are okay?
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Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
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