Michael Jordan elaborates on Scottie Pippen sitting out against the New York Knicks in Game 3 and talks about his role during those years.
Scottie Pippen’s arrival in Chicago from a draft day trade with Seattle led to Michael Jordan finally acquiring that secondary superstar he oh-so desired to take the Bulls forward. In merely a couple years’ time, Chi-Town went from an afterthought to becoming the foremost powerhouse, not just in the East, but in the league as a whole.
From 1991 to 1993, the Chicago Bulls snagged three straight NBA championships and it seemed as though Michael Jordan and company weren’t to be trifled with for the coming half decade. However, due to personal issues, Jordan stepped away from the game of basketball as a whole, leaving Pippen alone to lead the Bulls.
The Chicago Bulls, in the 1993-94 NBA season, actually did fairly well without their then 3x MVP and Finals MVP. They finished with a 55-27 record and were the 6th best defense in the league going into the Playoffs.
Scottie Pippen was an MVP candidate with averages of 22 points, 5.6 assists, and 8.7 rebounds a night. It felt as though the Bulls had a sliver of a chance in the postseason to return to the NBA Finals for a 4th straight time.
Michael Jordan on Scottie Pippen refusing to come out in the final seconds against the Knicks.
The first round saw the Bulls easily sweep the Cavaliers, leading up to an Eastern Conference rivalry series between them and the Knicks. It was in Game 3 of this series that the infamous moment with Pippen took place where he refused to go out in the final 1.8 seconds of the game with the game tied.
Michael Jordan spoke about this moment during an interview in 1995 where he claimed that that would not have happened if he was on the court with the team.
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“From his aspect, he never understood my role and my responsibility on this team two years ago. I was gone and he was propelled into that situation and he had to experience. He’s matured into handling situations he wouldn’t be able to handle two years ago.”
Of course, as everybody remembers, Toni Kukoc was given that last shot and he hit the shot that won them that game. The drama that followed Pippen’s refusal to get back into the game led to quite the emotional scene in the locker room.