Michael Jordan discusses why Scottie Pippen staying in Chicago was a big factor in his decision to make a comeback in 1995.
The Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls built one of the most legendary dynasties in league history. It’s rare enough to three-peat once, and the team managed to do it twice over, divided by MJ’s two-year baseball sabbatical.
After MJ announced his retirement in 1993, the basketball world was sent into frenzy. A legend was hanging up his boots after reaching the pinnacle, it was never seen before. Equally shocking was when the 6-time champ announced his comeback in the middle of the 1995 season.
Fans have always speculated about the reasons why MJ chose to return back. Some believed that he missed the thrill, and the sheer pleasure from dominance. He had been rejuvenated after an exhausting 3-year run to the championship, and was hungry for more. But there were bound to be uncertainties.
For instance, the GOAT’s robin, Scottie Pippen, was almost traded away for Shawn Kemp just before the 1994 NBA draft. The move would have landed Seattle’s No. 11 pick as well, and the offer was understandably exciting for the front office.
Michael Jordan insisted that his chemistry with Scottie Pippen was irreplaceable
The move went awry, however. It also led to Scottie Pippen being pissed at the front office’s attempt to trade him, and he was almost dead-set for a move to the LA Clippers mid-season. Fortunately for the Bulls, the move didn’t materialize, and MJ rejoined the Bulls just weeks later. Scottie’s decision to stay seemingly had a big say in MJ’s decision.
When asked in 2008 if he would have been comfortable in pairing up with Shawn Kemp, MJ was pretty straightforward.
“Probably not. I could have played with Shawn, but I wouldn’t have been as comfortable as I was with Scottie.”
It is interesting to note that the Bulls ended up meeting the Seattle Supersonics in the 1996 Finals. Kemp averaged 23 against Chicago in a tightly contested series. If only HC George Karl hadn’t waited long to put Gary Payton on MJ, the Sonics might have had a chance to shock the world.
MJ and Scottie remain one of the most feared duos in NBA history. While Shawn Kemp was a true superstar during his hey-day, developing a connection with MJ would have taken time. We can only imagine in retrospect what the MJ-Kemp Bulls might have looked like.