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Echoing what he told GQ’s Tyler R. Tynes, Pippen said he thought Jackson’s decision to draw up a play for Toni Kukoc for the last shot in Chicago’s second-round playoff series against the New York Knicks in 1994 was racially motivated.
Pippen also said Jordan made a “selfish decision” when he embarked on a baseball career after the Bulls won their third straight title in 1993.
Patrick addressed the situation on his show Tuesday. He said he and others reached out to Jackson and Jordan, both of whom chose not to comment.
When it came to Jackson, Pippen told Tynes he was upset because the Bulls had become his team in the wake of Jordan’s retirement. Whereas Jackson almost always deferred to Jordan in critical situations in his mind, he wasn’t getting the same treatment:
“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.”
Pippen also alluded to a somewhat icy relationship with Jordan. He said he and Jordan had an “impeccable” dynamic on the court and shared mutual respect. Off the court, they generally didn’t exchange pleasantries.
Pippen’s comments on Jackson led many to bring up the instance the Hall of Fame head coach referred to the people around LeBron James as his “posse,” a word that can carry racial undertones.
Some also looked back on Jackson’s relationship with Carmelo Anthony during their time together on the New York Knicks. Jackson seemed to be excessively critical of the Knicks’ best player, and his views on Anthony haven’t changed much over time.
Michael Jordan Short
If nothing else, Pippen’s appearance on The Dan Patrick Show serves as a reminder of how difficult maintaining a championship contender over a period of multiple years can be in the NBA. Balancing all of the personalities while isolating any friction away from the court is no small task.
The Last Dance provided an inside look at some of the drama unfolding behind the scenes as Chicago won six titles in eight years. Perhaps things were even worse than the documentary let on.
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