NBA

Scottie Pippen’s Forgotten Career After the Chicago Bulls

Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls sits on the bench during the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Chicago Bulls at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on Tuesday, January 27, 2004. The Clippers defeated the Bulls 102-92.
Kirby Lee/Getty Images

Scottie Pippen played 11 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, racking up seven all-star appearances and six championships. His time in Chicago is what he will be remembered by. However, the Hall of Famer played six more seasons after leaving the Bulls in 1998. Let’s get into how those six years went for him and why they are largely forgotten among the basketball community. 

Houston Rockets (1998-1999)

Scottie Pippen was egregiously underpaid throughout his duration with the Bulls and continuously butted heads with GM Jerry Krause. It was time for him to take his talents elsewhere. Thus, Chicago agreed to sign-and-trade him to Houston for five-years, $67 million.

According to an unpublished and unfinished memoir from Jerry Krause (acquired by NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson), this deal was a going-away present for Pippen. It ultimately allowed him to make $20 million more than if he merely signed a standard contract.

Scottie Pippen’s monetary value was finally commensurate with his on-court ability – setting the stage for a rejuvenated season with the Houston Rockets. However, it was anything but.

Although he played all 50 games during the lockout-shortened season, Pippen was clearly the third banana behind Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. Pippen would average 14.5 points per game – his lowest since the 1988-1989 season – on a subpar 43.2% from the field.

They finished the season as the fifth seed and would play the Shaq & Kobe Lakers in the first round. Pippen played surprisingly well, averaging 18.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. But to no avail, as the Rockets would lose in four – in a best of five series. Scottie Pippen would request a trade that summer, but not before culminating his season-long beef with Charles Barkley. According to the Associated Press’ Los Angeles Times, Scottie Pippen told ESPN of his vitriol for Barkley.

“I probably should’ve listened to Michael [Jordan] a year ago when he said that Charles will never win a championship because he doesn’t show any dedication. He’s a very selfish guy. He doesn’t show the desire to want to win. That’s my reason for wanting to get away from playing with him–because he just doesn’t show the dedication.”

Scottie Pippen

Portland Trailblazers (1999-2003)

Pippen initially requested a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, as a means to reunite with his former head coach, Phil Jackson, but the Rockets traded him to Portland instead.

He arrived in Portland at the age of 34, and although his scoring dipped slightly – averaging 12.5 points his first season there – you could tell he was much more comfortable here. Pippen was still an all-world defensive player and acclimated himself nicely to one of the most potent starting fives in the league: Damon Stoudamire, Steve Smith, Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace, and Arvydas Sabonis.

In the 2000 playoffs, Pippen led the Trailblazers in rebounds, assists, and steals; he looked very much like the Scottie Pippen of Chicago. Unfortunately for him and the Blazers, they would fall to the Lakers in the Conference Finals in seven games – blowing a 15 point lead in the fourth quarter and consequently costing themselves a trip to the NBA Finals. 

Pippen in that fourth quarter had zero points on 0/3 shooting, three personal fouls, and a plus/minus of -17. In the clutch, Kobe Bryant hit him with one of the most vicious crossovers ever, ultimately leading to the famous lob to Shaq that would put the game away. 

The next three years in Portland were plagued with injuries and playoff disappointments for Pippen. He would average 10.9 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.9 rebounds throughout these three seasons. Pippen would also lose in the first round of the playoffs every year.

Chicago Bulls (2003-2004)

Then Bulls GM John Paxson – also Pippen’s former teammate – decided to give the once touted superstar his swan song in Chicago. They would sign him to a two-year, $10 million contract. Sadly, the injury bug never left Pippen, resulting in him playing only 23 games.

Fittingly, Pippen played his final game against the Seattle Supersonics in 2004 – the team that drafted him.

Scottie Pippen would be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, thus, cementing his place in basketball lore. However, his years post-Chicago don’t exactly scream Hall-of-Famer. So, let’s do what we do with Jordan on the Wizards – brush it under the rug and pretend it never happened.

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