The Last Dance Documentary Reveals The Reality of the Chicago Bulls Hierarchy
As far as bringing basketball into the global consciousness goes, few players did more for the sport than Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls star is regarded as perhaps the greatest basketball player of all time – and one of the best athletes ever. However, the recent documentary, The Last Dance, did a lot to shine a light on many preconceived ideas about the 1990s Bulls era. For example, Jordan and his relationship with teammate Scottie Pippen.
As the documentary shows, things perhaps weren’t as rosy as we once assumed. For years, it was assumed that Pippen was happy to be the #2 to arguably the greatest player of all time. Many used to argue, perhaps without watching that era enough, that if Jordan was by some distance the best player in the NBA at the time, Pippen was the second best. That, though, was not the case.
As the episodes came out, we saw two very important things. One, when Jordan left the NBA for his first retirement, Pippen couldn’t bring the Bulls close to what Jordan achieved as the lead player. Second, that despite Jordan’s obvious ego, he always put himself second to the success of the Bulls. When it was revealed that Pippen, constantly used as trade bait by Bulls GM Jerry Krause, prolonged his ankle surgery so he would miss the start of the season partly out of spite, many fans found their opinions on Pippen changing.
The documentary shows the duality of the experience of being #2 in Jordan. Pippen was paid far less, he was given far less acclaim and accolades, and was seen by many as Robin to Jordan’s Batman. As the documentary unfolds, we see how much this embittered Pippen and factored in his many decisions since that, to some, appear questionable.
Pippen needed the rewards his success arguably never brought
As the documentary also shows, though, this was a guy trying to care for a family of twelve after his dad suffered a stroke. This left Pippen needing, not wanting, to be paid. He needed the guarantee of security that his family would be looked after forever.
While the documentary shows a secondary star eventually losing patience with the superstar of the team and acting out accordingly, it also shows the reasons. For many who either seen Pippen as temperamental or childish, the reasons are made clear.
Since the documentary was released, there has been even more tension between the duo – and while some of it is quite unbecoming of two people who achieved so much together, it is clear why this is the case. Pippen needed the guarantee of stability, perhaps more than any other player on the team.