Dennis Rodman believed that Scottie Pippen was the best player in the NBA after Michael Jordan’s 1993 retirement.
There is no disputing
that the 1990s was the decade of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The team won 6 championships in the decade behind the dominance of the team and MJ. No other team in the league was even close to their level, as the Bulls never even faced a 7-game series in the NBA Finals. They won titles from 1991 to 1993 and then again from 1996 to 1998.
After 1993, Michael Jordan retired from the NBA to play baseball and the team threw him a retirement party. In that time, Scottie Pippen became the leader and the number one option on the Bulls. He played admirably, even though he couldn’t bring the post-season success that he had with MJ single-handedly. Despite that, Dennis Rodman believes Pippen was the best player in the NBA when MJ retired.
“If you notice about Scottie Pippen, when Michael Jordan left in ’93, ’94, ’95 — Scottie Pippen was the best player in the world,” said Rodman during a Monday guest appearance on ESPN. “If 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 tram from winning three championships. When Michael left, Scottie took over and next thing you know he was the best player in the world. People don’t know that.”
« When Michael Jordan left in ’93 … Scottie Pippen was the best player in the world. »
—Dennis Rodman pic.twitter.com/AppK0XjHTt
— First Take (@FirstTake) April 20, 2020
How Did Scottie Pippen Fare Without Michael Jordan?
Many could argue that Pippen had the most complete skill-set for a forward in the NBA at the time. He put it to good use on the court in MJ’s absence, being an absolute two-way force that could be a playmaker for others on the team.
Pippen averaged 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists in the season without MJ and led the Bulls to the 1994 Playoffs. However, they fell to the New York Knicks in the Conference Semi-Finals. Jordan would come back in 1995 and lose in the playoffs to the Orlando Magic, but the team would begin their second three-peat with a title in 1996.