NBA Hall of Famer and Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen isn’t holding back anymore when it comes to his feelings about the past. He’s continuing to discuss his infamous decision to take himself out of a 1994 playoff game, and opening up more than ever before.
In that game, head coach Phil Jackson drew up the game-winning shot for Toni Kukoc. In an interview with GQ last week — the same interview in which he criticized Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons — Pippen said that he felt insulted disrespected by Jackson, but that’s not all. He also said that he felt that Jackson denying him the final shot was a « racial move. »
« I don’t think it’s a mystery, you need to read between the fine lines. It was my first year playing without Michael Jordan, why wouldn’t I be taking that last shot? I been through all the ups and downs, the battles with the Pistons and now you gonna insult me and tell me to take it out? I thought it was a pretty low blow. I felt like it was an opportunity to give [Kukoc] a rise. It was a racial move to give him a rise. After all I’ve been through with this organization, now you’re gonna tell me to take the ball out and throw it to Toni Kukoc? You’re insulting me. That’s how I felt. »
Dan Patrick asked Pippen about the « racial move » comment in an interview on his show Monday, and Pippen didn’t back away from it. In fact, he doubled down and called Jackson a racist instead of just implying it.
DP: « .. By saying it was a racial move then you’re calling Phil Jackson a racist… »
Pippen: « I don’t have a problem with that. »
DP: « Do you think Phil was? »
Pippen: « Oh yeah… »
Exchange with @ScottiePippen on Phil’s decision to have Kukoc take final shot against the Knicks pic.twitter.com/pH2aDLMDcQ
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) June 28, 2021
Pippen: Jackson tried to ‘expose’ Kobe
After Pippen said that he has no problem calling Jackson a racist, he used Jackson’s relationship with Kobe Bryant as an example of how he took advantage of Black players. Jackson coached Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers from 1999 to 2004, then left the team and wrote « The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul, » a book about the tumultuous 2003-2004 Lakers that was very critical of Bryant. Jackson then returned as head coach in 2005.
« Do you remember Phil Jackson left the Lakers and then wrote a book on Kobe Byrant and then came back and coached him? I mean, who would do that? You name someone in professional sports that would do that. I think he tried to expose Kobe in a way that he shouldn’t have. You’re the head coach. You’re the guy who sits in the locker room and tells the players ‘this is a circle, and everything stays within the circle, and that’s what team is about.’ But you as the head coach, opening up, and now you go out and try to belittle at that time one of the greatest players in the game? »
Pippen: MJ acted for the cameras in the huddle
Patrick then brought up how Michael Jordan didn’t have a problem passing the ball to Steve Kerr for the game-winning shot of the 1998 NBA Finals. But Pippen wasn’t having it, telling Patrick he doesn’t think that’s a fair comparison at all. Pippen believes Jordan only said he would pass the ball to Kerr because there were cameras filming him in the huddle, and even thinks MJ rehearsed that moment ahead of time.
« You know all those cameras who was sitting in that huddle, who they was working for? You know who Michael was speaking to, right? That was planned. That was speaking to the camera. That wasn’t speaking out of, what we’re gonna have to do, what the play is gonna be. That was speaking to the camera. Had John Stockton not came down — trust me. That was building his own documentary, because he knew he was controlling the cameras. All those cameras were working basically for Michael Jordan, not the Chicago Bulls … That was not naturally spoken. That was rehearsed. »
Pippen hopped on Twitter after the interview to pour a little more gasoline on the fire. He clearly knows what kind of kerfuffle his comments are going to cause and is totally OK with it.