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.
|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 stature—he did not attain his full height of 6'8" until he reached college—did 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.
|CHI: Chicago Bulls; HOU: Houston Rockets; POR: Portland Trailblazers.|
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-mates—particularly Barkley—and 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.
Address: Office, Portland Trailblazers, One Center Ct., Suite 200, Portland, OR 97227. Online: http://www.nba.com/blazers.
Bjarkman, Peter C. Sports Great Scottie Pippen. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishing, 1996.
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
Pippen, Scottie 1965–
Scottie Pippen 1965–
Professional basketball player
“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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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.”
Following graduation from high school, Pippen’s height had increased to 6’3” 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 Arkansas’s 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 team’s 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.
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 couldn’t 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. Pippen’s 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 Pippen’s 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 Jordan’s departure, Pippen became the team’s 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 NBA’s 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.
Pippen’s 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. Pippen’s 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.
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.
(b. 25 September 1965 in Hamburg, Arkansas), professional basketball player who won six National Basketball Association (NBA) championships and two Olympic gold medals, and who was named to the NBA's Fiftieth Anniversary All-Time Team.
Pippen was the youngest of Preston and Ethel Pippen's twelve children, six sons and six daughters. He spent his childhood and early adulthood in Hamburg, a town with a population of 3,000. His father worked at a local paper mill, while his mother was a homemaker. The family had very little money and struggled to make ends meet. Pippen attended Hamburg High School. During his freshman year his father suffered a severe stroke and was confined to a wheelchair. Pippen joined the basketball team that year but spent most of his time on the bench. A late bloomer, the fifteen-year-old Pippen was still shorter than his mother. He was almost cut from the team his junior year. At the end of his senior year Pippen had not been recruited by any college, and his future seemed uncertain.
Pippen graduated from high school in 1983, but without a scholarship he had little chance of attaining a college education. However, his high school coach was determined to get him enrolled in college and called in a favor from a friend at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Pippen was admitted to the university, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes, on a work-study program. By the time he entered college in autumn 1983, Pippen was six feet, three inches tall. He worked as the equipment manager of the basketball team during his freshman year. By his sophomore year he had grown another two inches and was playing on the team as a small forward. Pippen brought a great deal of versatility to the team; he could pass like a point guard and score like a shooting guard. His offensive and defensive skills improved over the next two years, and he became the team's Most Valuable Player (MVP). In 1987 Pippen graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a B.A. in industrial education.
Pippen's all-around performance in college did little to impress the National Basketball Association (NBA) recruiters, however, who were mostly interested in players from Division One schools. His big break came at an all-star celebrity game in Virginia. His performance at the event caught the attention of NBA scouts, and he was recruited in 1987 by the Seattle Supersonics as their fifth draft pick. Shortly afterward the Sonics traded Pippen to the Chicago Bulls for the center Olden Polynice. Pippen headed to the Windy City with a six-year contract worth more than $5 million.
Pippen's first two years in the NBA were uneventful, and he spent most of his time on the bench. In 1988 he had spinal surgery to repair a herniated disk which kept him out of the entire preseason and the first eight games of 1988–1989. During his third season, Phil Jackson became the Bulls head coach. Jackson's new offensive strategy gave Pippen more freedom and movement with the ball, allowing him to use his skills as both a forward and a guard. Pippen's scoring average rose to 16.5 points, along with 6.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. He also blocked 101 shots and was the third best in steals, with 101 total. His overall performance impressed basketball fans, who selected him to the NBA All-Star team.
The following season Pippen was involved in a bitter contract dispute with the Bulls management. He eventually signed a deal guaranteeing him $3.5 million per year until the 1997–1998 season. That year Pippen's overall game improved, with an average score of 17.8 points per game and with 595 rebounds, 511 assists, and 193 steals. He also stepped up during the postseason, averaging 21.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game. His performance helped the Bulls win the Eastern Conference finals against their arch-rivals, the Detroit Pistons, and head to the finals, where they faced the Los Angeles Lakers. The Bulls nearly swept the Lakers and won the championship. Sadly, Pippen's father died early in the season and never got to see his son's victory.
Pippen and his star teammate Michael Jordan continued to play well over the next two seasons and led the Bulls to two more championships. During the summer of 1992 Pippen was chosen to play for the U.S. Olympic team in Barcelona, Spain. The "Dream Team," as they were called by sports journalists, dominated all opponents and won the gold medal. Just before the start of the 1993–1994 season, Jordan announced his retirement from professional basketball. No longer in Jordan's shadow, Pippen was suddenly the leader of the team. He played well that season, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.93 steals per game. He also was named the MVP of the NBA All-Star game in Minneapolis.
During the 1994–1995 season Pippen's personal life became the focus of much public attention with the emergence of two scandals. He was arrested on two separate occasions for allegedly pushing and grabbing the arm of his fiancée, Yvette DeLeone, and for gun possession, although both charges were later dropped. He also was involved in a paternity suit after the model Sonya Roby claimed he had fathered her child. Although he denied the charge, Pippen was ordered by the courts to pay Roby $10,000 in maternity costs. Pippen has been married twice, first to Karen McCullom and later to DeLeone, and has fathered four children.
In spring 1995 Jordan returned to the Bulls after an unsuccessful stint at minor league baseball. The following season the Bulls won their fourth NBA title, with a record-setting 72–10 win-loss record during the regular season. Pippen also was selected to play with the U.S. Olympic Dream Team II at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, where he won his second gold medal.
Over the next two years the Bulls reigned as the NBA champions and made their mark in basketball history as a dynasty, winning six NBA titles within eight years. Their reign ended in 1998 when Jordan retired from basketball for the second time and Pippen, unhappy with the Bulls management, signed a lucrative deal with the Houston Rockets. However, his days as a Rocket were short lived. His style did not mesh well with the team and he was traded to the Portland (Oregon) Trail Blazers the following year. The change was just what Pippen needed. He had a strong season with the Trail Blazers, leading them to the Western Conference finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in game seven.
Although he will always be linked to Jordan, Pippen's versatility, agility, and quickness have made him one of basketball's most talented players, and he was named to the NBA's Fiftieth Anniversary All-Time Team. He has gained the respect of his peers and is considered a role model to many adolescents. His popularity has led to many endorsement deals, including one for a candy bar name after him. Despite his fame and success, Pippen has not forgotten his humble beginnings; he remains close to his family and supports many charities.
Pippen has written an autobiography, with Greg Brown, Reach Higher (1996). Information on his life and accomplishments can be found in Current Biography (Mar. 1994), and Contemporary Black Biography (1997). See also articles about Pippen in Sports Illustrated (30 Nov. 1987), New York Times (27 Oct. 1991), People Weekly (6 May 1996), Sport (June 1996), and Sports Illustrated (24 Nov. 1997).