Scottie Pippen is a 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward
who has played for three NBA
teams, the Chicago Bulls
, the Houston Rockets
, and the Portland Trail Blazers
. He is a seven-time All-Star
, and won six NBA
championship rings as a member of the Chicago Bulls
. His best seasons all came as Michael Jordan
in Chicago. Pippen, while he is enormously skilled at almost every facet of the game, is not the kind of player who can carry a team by himself.
Pippen was born in Hamburg, Arkansas, on September 25th, 1965. He played his college ball at Central Arkansas, and was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics with the fifth pick of the 1987 NBA Draft, after a stellar senior year when he averaged 24 points, 10 rebounds, and shot 59 percent from the floor. The Sonics dealt Pippen to the Chicago Bulls on draft day, for the rights to center Olden Polynice, who is perhaps most famous for his repeated arrests for impersonating a police officer.
Pippen was a reserve in his first season, averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds, but was impressive in the postseason, and became a starter in 1989, averaging 14 ppg. His numbers improved in each subsequent season. In 1991, the Bulls won their first championship. Pippen had posted averages of 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, but stepped up even more in the playoffs, averaging 22 points. Michael Jordan left the Bulls after their third straight title, in 1993, to play minor league baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization. Pippen was left to lead the team in 1994, and had his most impressive statistical season, with 22 ppg, 9 rpg, and 6 apg. Pippen was also named MVP of the All-Star Game. However, in the playoffs, the Bulls were eliminated by the New York Knicks, and in an infamous incident in the closing seconds of the final game, Pippen refused to go out on the court because coach Phil Jackson had called the final play for Toni Kukoc, and not for him.
The Bulls won three more titles after Jordan's return, and Pippen continued to be the second scoring option and the primary playmaker. After the 1998 season, Jordan announced his second retirement, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf broke up the Bulls. Pippen was sent to the Houston Rockets for forward Roy Rogers and several draft picks. Pippen struggled with his shot in Houston, and never really fit into the offense there, lasting only one season before being shipped to Portland, to join a squad of talented malcontents known as the "Jail Blazers".
In his two seasons in Portland, Pippen has been an invisible man, deferring on offense to Rasheed Wallace, and putting up numbers that pale in comparison to his Chicago days.
Pippen has the complete offensive package. He is primarily a slasher, scoring on drives to the basket, but also has some semblance of a jump shot. He is an athletic dunker with the court vision of a point guard. He is also a defensive whiz, once posting 232 steals in a single season. Pippen's weaknesses are his free throw shooting, a shade under 70 percent for his career, and also his tendency to disappear on the court for entire games at a time. Pippen is an enigma; a player with his skills probably should have had a more dominant career.
Still, Pippen should play for several more years on his abilities to defend, to create shots for his teammates, and to occasionally score big.