Scottie Pippen Became ‘The Happiest Man Alive’ When Michael Jordan Retired, Relates to Russell Westbrook
Scottie Pippen Became “The Happiest Man Alive” When Michael Jordan Retired, Relates to Russell Westbrook
Scottie Pippen is one of the most underrated players in league history; not for his skills and ability, but for the fact he was Batman’s (Michael Jordan) partner-in-crime, Robin (Scottie Pippen) for many years in Chicago. It was Pippen’s time to shine during the 1993-94 season—Michael Jordan’s first retirement from the game of basketball.
Scottie Pippen took to ESPN’s The Jump on Tuesday to discuss Russell Westbrook being the lone star on the Oklahoma City Thunder and how his own career relates to the superstar guard.
The six-time NBA champion expresses how he thinks Westbrook relishes this opportunity to be the No. 1 option in Oklahoma City without Kevin Durant by his side as Pippen did without Jordan.
“I was the happiest man alive,” Pippen said. “I got a chance to be the man for a change. It’s something that you embrace as a player, especially when you’re in a position where you’re probably not going to get that spotlight, like myself playing with Michael. So when he was retired, I was very happy, but I did want him to come back.”
“In this situation with Westbrook, he’s embracing the opportunity of really leading his team, getting the triple-doubles,” Pippen said. “And they’re getting wins.”
But, even though Westbrook is on pace to average a triple-double for the entire 2016-17 season (first player to do so since Oscar Robertson), Pippen admits he will eventually need more help as he has the ball each and every time up the floor.
“The way he’s playing now, it’s definitely going to wear on him,” Pippen said. “But I love watching him play. He plays the game hard and with the energy that he brings, it just feeds throughout his teammates.”
Scottie Pippen’s best season came without Jordan in 1993-94, where he averaged 22.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per game; both career highs. He was 3rd in MVP voting, made his first All-NBA First Team, won All-Star Game MVP and was a menace on each side of the court all season. Impressively, the Chicago Bulls went 55-27 without their superstar guard, but their streak of three straight championships was snapped as they were defeated in the second round by New York, 4-3.
The next year, Pippen admits he was “sad” going another season without Jordan, but then “His Airness” made a return with 17 games left in the season.
“Going through those two years, I started to get a little bit sad,” Pippen said, laughing. “But [Jordan] saw it and decided to come back.”
Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan wound up winning three more NBA titles together, and lived happily ever after. Kinda, as the two split with Pippen heading to Houston and Jordan to retirement after their final championship in 1998.