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Pippen, Scottie

Scottie Pippen

1965-

American basketball player

Considered one of the top basketball players of all time, point forward Scottie Pippen made news both on and off the court throughout his decades-long career as a professional athlete. Beginning in 1987 with the Chicago Bulls, Pippen has gone on to demonstrate his multiple talents in shooting, passing, blocking, and rebounding, as well as in defense strategy, and has become known even among non-basketball fans for his performance as part of the U.S. basketball "Dream Team" that took the gold at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Contributing to his reputation as one of the greatest forwards in professional basketball was Pippen's talent for complementing Bulls teammate Michael Jordan while Jordan rose to superstardom during the 1990s. Over-shadowed by Jordan throughout his tenure with the Bulls, Pippen also exhibited a sometimes erratic performance, moodiness, and a trouble-tinged personal life, all of which made his role as a top player somewhat controversial. His career was characterized by some as a balancing act between moments of athletic genius and spats of uncooperativeness and immaturity. However, in the broad view the balance falls on the plus side, at least in the opinion of the National Basketball Association (NBA) which voted the 6'8", 228-pound Pippen among the fifty top basketball players of all time in 1996.

Chronology

1965 Born September 25 in Hamburg, Arkansas
1983 Begins stint as team manager and point guard while student at University of Central Arkansas
1987 Drafted fifth overall by Seattle SuperSonics and immediately traded to Chicago Bulls
1988 Moves to starting lineup of Bulls in point forward position
1990 Divorces first wife Karen McCollum after two-year marriage
1991 Named to first of many NBA All-Star teams
1992 Member of U.S. Olympic Basketball "Dream Team" in Barcelona, Spain
1993 Breaks string of consecutive games with suspension for throwing a punch at an opposing player
1993 Takes on-court leadership role of Bulls after Jordan temporarily retires
1994 Refuses to play final 1.8 seconds of Game 3 against New York Knicks in Eastern Conference semifinals
1995 Ordered by court to pay model Sonya Roby $10,000 for maternity costs involved in bearing his twin daughters in 1994
1995 Arrested on charge of domestic battery filed against him by ex-fiancee Yvette DeLeone
1996 Member of gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in Atlanta, Georgia
1996 Earns $7 million in product endorsements with Ameritech, Frito Lay, Ginsana, Mazda, Nike, and others
1997 Wins fourth national basketball championship with Chicago Bulls
1997 Lands role on NBC Wednesday-night sitcom Chicago Sons
1997 Marries second wife, a former model
1997 Undergoes surgery to correct a sports-related injury to his left foot
1998 Signs 5-year contract for $67.2 million with Houston Rockets
1999 Charged with misdemeanor DWI in Harris county, Texas and released after posting $500 bail
1999 Traded to Portland Trailblazers
2002 Finishes college degree in kinesiology begun in 1983

Born in 1965 in Hamburg, Arkansas, Pippen was one of twelve children born to Preston and Ethel Pippen. Growing up in a rural hometown, the six Pippen brothers spent much of their time playing basketball, their family dogged by poverty after Preston, a paper mill worker suffered a debilitating stroke the year Pippen entered high school. Although he enjoyed basketball, Pippen's unremarkable staturehe did not attain his full height of 6'8" until he reached collegedid little to hint at his future career. As a student, math was his favorite subject due to its practicality; basketball was simply recreation until his sophomore year, when he joined the school team and doubled as the football team equipment manager. As a high school senior the 6'1", 150-pound Pippen played starting point guard, but was unable to attract the attention of college scouts or scholarship monies. Convinced that basketball would provide the young man perhaps his only chance at furthering his education, Pippen's high school coach located a work-study arrangement at the University of Central Arkansas whereby Pippen could continue to play point guard and be team manager. Pippen enrolled at Central Arkansas in 1983, intending to major in industrial education and find a job as a factory manager.

Fortunately, Pippen began to gain some height following high school graduation, and by September he was 6'3". During his sophomore year he started a weight-training program, gained another two inches, and watched his game noticeably improve. Impressed, his coach had Pippen play not only forward but other positions as well. Viewed as the team's best all-around player during his last year at Central Arkansas, Pippen now averaged 23.6 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. While his impressive performance at Central Arkansas registered slightly with Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, Pippen's equally impressive performance at a college all-star event in Portsmouth, Virginia transfixed Krause, who made a deal whereby Pippen was the number-five draft choice of the Seattle SuperSonics in late 1986 and immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls with a six-year contract worth over $5 million.

During the 1987-88 season the Bulls were led by coach Doug Collins and player Michael Jordan, who dominated Collins's starting lineup. As backup point forward Pippen averaged 7.9 points per game before becoming sidelined by a herniated disk that required back surgery. Missing the 1988-89 preseason as well as the first eight games that followed, he advanced to the starting lineup in late December by averaging 14.4 points per game. During the Eastern Conference playoffs Chicago downed their first two rivals before facing the Detroit Pistons. Suffering a concussion at the start of game six against Detroit, Pippen was forced from play and could only watch as the Bulls were downed in a hard-fought match.

The appointment of Phil Jackson to the Bulls' head coach spot at the start of the 1989-90 season was a boon for Pippen. Jackson's three-point offensive strategy allowed him greater freedom on the court. Scoring an average of 16.5 points per game, Pippen found himself on the NBA All-Star team for the first time. "He handles the ball well enough to be virtually a third guard," explained Sports Illustrated contributor Leigh Montville of Pippen, "dribbling up the floor in the Bulls offense. He is a point forward, the modern all-purpose basketball part. Guard him high, and he will take youlow. Guard him low, and he will take you high. Don't guard him for a moment? He is gone, rising over the basket and depositing the ball with a house-call efficiency that makes you remember Dr. Julius Erving himself." Eerily echoing the previous year's playoffs, the Bulls again faced Detroit, and fans again saw Pippen play poorly before being pulled from Game 7, this time due to migraine headaches. Chicago's 74-93 loss was put squarely on Pippen's shoulders by many fans, many of whom did not realize that the point forward was also mourning the recent death of his father, who had passed away during the playoffs.

Pippen returned for the Bulls' 1990-91 season a more focused player. After a heated contract dispute he ended the season with a guaranteed annual salary of $3.5 million through 1997-98. Pippen's efforts on the court justified the increase as he led the Bulls to a sweep of the conference championship series against the Pistons by scoring 17.8 points per game, 595 rebounds, 511 assists, and 193 steals. The Bulls went on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the world championship.

Pippen's stats during the 1991-92 season earned him a spot on both the 1992 All-Star game and the U.S. Olympic "Dream Team" alongside Jordan, Magic Johnson , and Larry Bird . He also continued to lead his team in assists. Ironically, considering these honors, in a playoff game against the New York Knicks his sprained ankle and injured wrist cost the team points and sparked renewed grumblings among Bulls fans. This time, however, the Bulls were victorious, and Pippen entered the final games of the playoffs in top form, then traveled to Barcelona, Spain to help the Dream Team take the 1992 gold medal.

The 1992-93 season found Pippen at the top of his game; he spearheaded a drive to the top of the Eastern Conference by beating the Knicks in the playoffs 4-0 and helped the Bulls become the first team to win three consecutive league titles since 1966. At the close of the season teammate Jordan announced that he was retiring to begin a second career in baseball, and Pippen filled the void by taking on a more active role on the court.

Awards and Accomplishments

1991 NBA All-Defensive Second Team
1992 U.S. Olympic basketball team; NBA All-Star Team; NBA All-Defensive First Team
1993 NBA All-Defensive First Team; NBA All-Star Team
1994 NBA All-Defensive First Team; NBA All-Star Team and MVP
1995 NBA All-Star Team; All-NBA First Team
1996 Gold medal as part of U.S. Olympic basketball team; NBA All-Defensive First Team; NBA All-Star Team; named among NBA's 50 greatest basketball players of all time
1997 NBA All-Defensive First Team; NBA All-Star Team
1998 All-NBA Third Team
1999 NBA All-Defensive First Team; NBA All-Star Team
2000 NBA All-Defensive Second Team

During the 1993-94 season an ankle injury kept Pippen out of the first ten games before he returned to boost the Bulls' standings with an average of 22 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game. He bagged NBA Most Valuable Player honors in the All-Star game by posting 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 steals before his now-characteristic fall from grace during the May, 1994 playoffs. During the final, crucial 1.8 seconds of the Bulls' third game against the Knicks, Pippen refused to return to the game after a time-out. Angered that teammate Toni Kukoc had been awarded both a lucrative contract and the final shot of the game, Pippen stubbornly sat out the final seconds, during which Kukoc's shot saved the game for the Bulls. Despite his subsequent apologies, Pippen found this action would haunt him as fans blamed him for the Bulls' ultimate loss of the series to New York.

Pippen's dissatisfaction with his team flooded over into his private life, and his name began to appear on more than just the sports pages during the 1993-94 season. In January 1994 he was arrested for possession of a firearm, although the charges were later dropped after the basketball star intimated allegations of racism on the part of the arresting officers. Subsequent reports revealed a domestic abuse charge by then-fiancee Yvette Deleone and a paternity suit by model Sonya Roby that cited Pippen as the father of her daughter, a surviving twin, and cost the athlete $10,000 despite his denial of the charge.

Although Pippen illustrated his continuing frustration with the 1994-95 season by throwing a chair onto the court in response to a call by officials during a game in January 1995, he finally gave Bulls fans something to cheer about the following February when he joined a returning Jordan and the recently acquired former Piston Dennis Rodman to propel the team to fifty wins in their first fifty-six games. Pippen managed to keep his legal problems off the court during the remainder of the 1995-96 season and averaged over nineteen points per game. Named to the All-NBA First Team for the third year in a row, he also walked away with a gold medal for his role in the 1996 U.S. basketball Olympic team. Bulls teammates Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman also became the first trio of teammates in thirteen years to make the NBA's All-Defensive Team.

The 1996-97 season, marking the end of Pippen's contract with the Bulls, was highlighted by his inclusion as one of the NBA's fifty greatest players. Taking advantage of his on- and off-court fame, the savvy athlete supplemented his annual salary of $2.25 million with $7 million from product endorsements and appearances on television programs such as ER and Chicago Sons. Pippen's biggest endorsement, with shoe manufacturer Nike, earned him between $2.5 to $3.5 million. The athlete's name recognition only improved when he led the Bulls to their fifth world championship, averaging 19.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in nineteen playoff games despite being hobbled with an injury to his left foot.

At the start of Pippen's tenth pro season, 1997-98, the thirty-two year old was sidelined for three months while recovering from foot surgery while rumors of his planned departure from the Bulls began to circulate. Undergoing more back surgery in July to repair two herniated disks, Pippen then accepted a deal whereby he was traded to the Houston Rockets after signing a five-year contract with the Bulls worth $67.2 million. Pippen ended his Bulls career with per-game averages of 18 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists.

Career Statistics

Yr Team GP Pts FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF
CHI: Chicago Bulls; HOU: Houston Rockets; POR: Portland Trailblazers.
1987-88 CHI 79 7.9 46.3 17.4 57.6 3.8 2.1 1.2 0.7 1.7 2.7
1988-89 CHI 73 14.4 47.6 27.3 66.8 6.1 3.5 1.9 0.8 2.7 3.6
1989-90 CHI 82 16.5 48.9 25.0 67.5 6.7 5.4 2.6 1.2 3.4 3.6
1990-91 CHI 2 17.8 52.0 30.9 70.6 7.3 6.2 2.4 1.1 2.8 3.3
1991-92 CHI 82 21.0 50.6 20.0 76.0 7.7 7.0 1.9 1.1 3.1 3.0
1992-93 CHI 81 18.6 47.3 23.7 66.3 7.7 6.3 2.1 0.9 3.0 2.7
1993-94 CHI 72 22.0 49.1 32.0 66.0 8.7 5.6 2.9 0.8 3.2 3.2
1994-95 CHI 79 21.4 48.0 34.5 71.6 8.1 5.2 2.9 1.1 3.4 3.0
1995-96 CHI 77 19.4 46.3 37.4 67.9 6.4 5.9 1.7 0.7 2.7 2.6
1996-97 CHI 82 20.2 47.4 36.8 70.1 6.5 5.7 1.9 0.5 2.6 2.6
1997-98 CHI 44 19.1 44.7 31.8 77.7 5.2 5.8 1.8 1.0 2.5 2.6
1998-99 HOU 50 14.5 43.2 34.0 72.1 6.5 5.9 2.0 0.7 3.2 2.4
1999-00 POR 82 12.5 45.1 32.7 71.7 6.3 5.0 1.4 0.5 2.5 2.5
2000-01 POR 64 11.3 45.1 34.4 73.9 5.2 4.6 1.5 0.5 2.4 2.5
2001-02 POR 62 10.6 41.1 30.5 77.4 5.2 5.9 1.6 0.6 2.8 2.6
2002-03 POR 12 8.2 51.2 31.2 83.3 2.3 3.2 0.9 0.1 1.8 1.9
TOTAL 1104 15.0 47.5 32.9 70.0 6.5 5.3 1.99 .83 2.8 2.9

During his first season with the Rockets, Pippen clearly welcomed the change in team affiliation. Joining fellow player Charles Barkley on the starting lineup, he adopted the new defensive system of Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich, and led his new team in assists. However, by the following spring Pippen openly expressed frustration over the shortcomings of his team-matesparticularly Barkleyand his own inability to be cast in scoring positions, telling a Jet interviewer, "Playing the minutes I'm playing [without scoring] makes the game not any fun anymore. My next step is to find out why this organization wanted me." As before, off-court troubles followed on-court troubles, and in May 1999 Pippen was arrested for driving while intoxicated, although the charges were later dropped

Because of his growing dissatisfaction with Houston, Pippen requested that he be traded, and in October of 1999 he found himself signed with the middle-ranked Portland Trailblazers. Although he helped Portland into the Western Conference finals in both 2000 and 2001, Pippen averaged only 11.3 points during the 2000-01 season. Exhibiting a playing style characterized by Chicago Tribune reporter Sam Smith as "toned down" and "quieter," the now-veteran Pippen's performance was praised by fellow teammate Steve Kerr as that of a player who "knows how to find you where you want the ball." Despite his fall from the national spotlight, Pippen expressed his satisfaction at playing on a team noted for its camaraderie and love of the game.

Although his accomplishments have been somewhat overshadowed by ups and downs in his personal life, Pippen developed into one of the greatest forwards in professional basketball, his success inspired in no small part by the straightened circumstances of his childhood. His pairing with superstar Jordan proved to be a double-edged sword: while he fueled Jordan's rise to stardom and helped make the Chicago Bulls a force to be reckoned with during most of the 1990s, his own abilities were often overshadowed. Determined to achieve a modest fortune in addition to professional success, Pippen has remained wise to the vagaries of professional sports, lending his name to a variety of products and appearing on several television programs while his name held value for commercial sponsors. Joining the Portland Trailblazers as a mature player, Pippen has continued to distinguish himself, his confidence and authority among younger, less experienced athletes bolstered by his multiple NBA records, Olympic wins, and countless other accolades.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address: Office, Portland Trailblazers, One Center Ct., Suite 200, Portland, OR 97227. Online: http://www.nba.com/blazers.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Books

Bjarkman, Peter C. Sports Great Scottie Pippen. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishing, 1996.

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune (December 28, 1989).

Chicago Tribune (June 5, 2000).

Chicago Tribune (May 8, 2001).

Chicago Tribune (November 30, 2001).

Jet (June 12, 1995): 27.

Jet (March 18, 1996): 52.

Jet (April 15, 1999): 48.

People (May 6, 1996): 238-240.

Sporting News (February 6, 1995): 42.

Sporting News (December 8, 1997): 68.

Sporting News (February 8, 1999): 32.

Sporting News (May 22, 2000): 20.

Sporting News (May 29, 2000): 42.

Sports Illustrated (November 30, 1987): 67-71.

Sports Illustrated (March 25, 1991): 68.

Sports Illustrated (February 24, 1992): 74-84.

Sports Illustrated (June 13, 1993): 40.

Sports Illustrated (March 14, 1994): 72.

Sports Illustrated (December 13, 1999): 80.

Washington Post (June 16, 1993): D1.

Sketch by Pamela L. Shelton

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Pippen, Scottie 1965–

Scottie Pippen 1965

Professional basketball player

Late Growth Spurt Enhanced Talent

Became Perennial All Star

Sources

Image not available for copyright reasons

Hailed as one of the 50 greatest basketball players of all time by the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1996, Scottie Pippen is one of the most versatile athletes ever to play on a basketball court. His impressive skills as a ballhandler, shooter, passer, rebounder, shot blocker, and overall defender have earned him a steady stream of accolaides since he began his professional career with the Chicago Bulls in 1987.

While Pippen most likely would have been the top star on any other team in the NBA, he has continually played in the shadow of superstar teammate Michael Jordan. Sub-par performances in playoff games also have tarnished his reputation over the years. A finesse player with a stealthy, intelligent court presence, creative slashing ability, and deadly outside shot, Pippen nonetheless found himself battling a reputation for softness, wrote Scott Poulson-Bryant in VIBE in 1995.

Partly because he did not reach his full height until his college years, Pippen did not demonstrate exceptional basketball talent as a youth in Hamburg, Arkansas. Although he was starting as a point guard during his senior year in high school, he was only 6 1 and weighed just 150 pounds at the time. As one of 12 children and with a father confined to a wheelchair due to a stroke, Pippen needed scholarship money to attend college. However, he was largely ignored by recruiters. He participated in a tryout at South Arkansas University, but wasnt offered a scholarship. Through the efforts of his high school coach, Donald Wayne, Pippen got the chance to play at the University of Central Arkansas on a work-study arrangement in which he would also be team manager. I wasnt that interested in playing, Pippen told Sports Illustrated in 1987. I had gone through some hard time not playing in high school, but my coach had it in his mind that basketball was the way I would get an education.

Late Growth Spurt Enhanced Talent

Following graduation from high school, Pippens height had increased to 63 by the fall of 1983. He grew another two inches by the start of his sophomore season, which gave him the height of a forward to go along with his skills as a guard. His all-around ability soon made him Central Arkansass best player, and by his senior year he

At a Glance

Born September 25, 1965, in Hamburg, AR; son of Preston (mill worker) and Ethel Pippen; one of twelve children; children: Antron.Education: University of Central Arkansas, 1983-87.

Became starter at point guard on high school team, 1982; became college teams best player during sophomore year; drafted by Seattle SuperSonics of NBA, 1987;traded to Chicago Bulls, 1987;had back surgery to repair a hemiated disk, 1988; became starter at small forward on Bulls, 1988; named to first All-Star team, 1991; placed third in Most Valuable Player balloting, 1994; led Chicago Buillsin five statistical categories, 1994-95 season; played on World Champion NBA team, 1991-93, 1996.

Selected awards: All-Defensive First Team, 1992-97; All-Star Team, 1990-97; All-NBA First Team, 1994-96; U.S. Olympic basketball team, 1992, 1996; selected as one of fifty greatest players in NBA history, 1996.

Addresses: c/o The Chicago Bulls, 1 Magnificent Mile, 980 North Michigan Ave., #11600, Chicago, IL 60611-4501.

was a dominating presence on the court. He averaged 23.6 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.3 assists game, as well as a 59% field-goal percentage.

Despite his impressive statistics, Pippen attracted little interest from NBA teams because he had played at a small college. He finally drew the attention of NBA scouts and general managers following an impressive performance at an all-star event in Virginia. Initially signed by the Seattle SuperSonics as a number-five draft choice, Pippen was traded to the Chicago Bulls in 1987 for a six-year contract worth over $5 million. At the time, the Bulls were still searching for the right balance of players as a supporting cast for Michael Jordan.

Following his rookie season, Pippen had back surgery to repair a herniated disk and missed part of the 1988-89 season. When he returned to the team, he demonstrated a versatile style of play and quickly became a starter. He finished the year with a 14.4 points-per-game average, nearly double the total of his rookie season. The season ended on a sour note for Pippen and the Chicago Bulls when they lost to the Detroit Pistons during the conference playoffs. Pippen suffered a concussion during the series which limited his effectiveness.

Became Perennial All Star

At the beginning of the 1989-90 season, Phil Jackson replaced Doug Collins as head coach. This coaching change benefitted Pippen greatly. Jackson used a different offensive alignment than Collins, which gave Pippen more freedom of movement and allowed him to utilize his skills as both a guard and forward. He raised his scoring average to 16.5 points per game and was named to the All-Star team for the first time. In the 1989-90 playoffs, the Bulls faced the Pistons again. Pippen suffered from migraine headaches during the series and performed badly. The Bulls lost again and Pippen received the brunt of the criticism, with many fans charging that he couldnt handle the pressure of big games.

During the 1990-91 season, Pippen was embroiled in a bitter contract dispute. It was eventually resolved with Pippen receiving a guaranteed contract for $3.5 million per year through the 1997-98 season. On the court, Pippen had a spectacular season. He scored 17.8 points per game, racked up 595 rebounds, 511 assists, and 193 steals as he helped lead the Bulls to their first world championship. Pippens skills continued to improve during the 1991-92 season. He averaged 21.0 points per game, started in the All-Star game for the first time, was named to his first All-Defensive team, and was selected to play on the U.S. Olympic Dream Team. Although the Bulls won their second consecutive world championship, Pippen played with a sprained ankle and injured wrist during most of the playoffs and performed poorly. Despite these injuries, his subpar playoff performance reinforced Pippens reputation as a choke artist among some fans. In 1993, the Bulls won their third consecutive world championship. Pippen was finally able to shake the choke artist label after performing brilliantly throughout the playoffs. His performance even overshadowed that of Michael Jordan, who was under intense media scrutiny regarding allegations of his involvement in illegal gambling.

In 1993, Michael Jordan left the Bulls to pursue a second career in baseball. With Jordans departure, Pippen became the teams star player. He responded with a terrific season, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game. His play earned him a third-place finish in voting for the NBAs Most Valuable Player. In 1994, Pippen played in the All-Star game and won Most Valuable Player honors. During the 1994 playoffs, Pippen was severely criticized for his refusal to leave the bench during the closing seconds of a close game against the New York Knicks. He was upset that the Bulls coaching staff wanted teammate Toni Kukoc to attempt the final shot instead of him. Pippen resented the fact that the Bulls had signed Kukoc to a lucrative contract that would pay him a higher salary. The bitterness between Pippen and the Bulls management almost led to his trade to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994, but the deal was never completed.

Pippens 1995 season was overshadowed by personal scandal. He was arrested on a domestic abuse charge after his fiancee, Yvette Deleone, accused him of pushing her and grabbing her arm. Shortly after, model Sonya Roby filed a paternity suit which claimed that Pippen fathered her child. Although Pippen denied the charge, he was ordered to pay $10,000 for maternity costs. Pippens troubles did not adversely affect his performance on the court, however. He averaged over 19 points a game during the 1995-96 season, and was named to the All-NBA First Team for the third consecutive season. He also won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. basketball team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games held in Atlanta.

On June 13, 1997, Pippen helped to lead the Bulls to their fifth world championship. He is in the prime of his career and remains a key member of the Chicago Bulls. His vast repertoire of offensive and defensive skills has made him one of the most electric and prolific players ever to put on an NBA uniform, guaranteeing him a future spot in the NBA Hall of Fame.

Sources

Chicago Tribune, December 28, 1989.

Jet, June 12, 1995, p. 27.

People, May 6, 1996, pp. 238-240.

Sport, February 1992, pp. 66-70.

Sports Illustrated, November 30, 1987, pp. 67-71; February 24, 1992, pp. 74-84.

VIBE, March 1995, pp. 58-61.

Washington Post, June 16, 1993, p. D-l.

Further information for this profile was obtained from websites for the Chicago Bulls and the National Basketball Association on the Internet.

Ed Decker

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