Batman and Robin. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Considered the greatest duo of all-time, Jordan and Pippen had extreme success winning three straight NBA championships from 1991-1993. A fourth title seemed conclusive heading into the 1993-94 season, but when Michael Jordan suddenly announced he was stepping down from basketball to play baseball at the age of 31, Pippen, his teammates and the world were stunned.
From that moment on it was Scottie Pippen’s time to shine.
And Robin did become Batman. As everyone knew, while on the team, Michael Jordan was the leader—he took all the big shots, dominated the court and media, and was at the forefront of all six championships—and Pippen accepted it.
But in that first season without MJ, Pippen was up against Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon and San Antonio Spurs big-man David Robinson in the MVP voting, but eventually fell short to Olajuwon for the award. Pippen ranked eighth in scoring (22.0), 23rd in rebounding (8.7), 19th in assists (5.6) second in steals (2.9), and averaged 0.8 blocks per game while shooting an impressive 49% from the field.
Pippen carried the team on his back during Jordan’s absence and gained newfound respect in the NBA world that he could win and be a superstar on his own.
When Dennis Rodman joined ESPN’s First Take, he talked about his former teammates and said that Pippen became the ‘best player in the world” when Jordan left.
“When Michael Jordan left in ’93, ’94, ’95, Scottie Pippen was the best player in the world. And people didn’t know that. He led the team in every category, every category.
Scottie got his wings in 1991 when they beat the Detroit Pistons. He got his wings then, and he started on that trend from winning three championships. When Michael left, Scottie took over – and next thing you know, he was the best player in the world. And people don’t know that!”
What if Scottie Pippen was the top dog on all teams he’s been apart of during his career? What if he had a dominant big man playing alongside him? What if there was no Michael Jordan from the start? A series of questions came about after Pippen’s extraordinary 1993-94 season. He erased all doubts about whether he was just a sidekick who played so well because of Michael Jordan.