Scottie Pippen slams Phil Jackson, agrees with calling him ‘racist’

"I was in the locker room with him. I was in practices with him," Pippen said.

Scottie Pippen has once again reacted to former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson choosing Toni Kukoc — and not Pippen — to take the final shot in a 1994 playoff game.

During a recent interview with GQ, the Hall of Famer said he felt the decision was “a racial move.” 

“I felt like it was an opportunity to give (Kukoč) a rise,” Pippen shared with the publication. “It was a racial move to give him a rise. After all I’ve been through with this organization, now you’re gonna tell me to take the ball out and throw it to Toni Kukoč? You’re insulting me.”

Pippen doubled down on his remarks while appearing on The Dan Patrick Show, during which he also took aim at his former teammate Michael Jordan

“Why would Toni, who’s a rookie, get the last-second shot and you put me out of bounds? That’s what I mean racial,” Pippen said to the host.

Patrick replied, “By saying ‘a racial move,’ then you’re calling Phil a racist.” 

“I don’t got a problem with that,” Pippen responded.

“Yeah, I mean, do you remember Phil Jackson went and left the Lakers, wrote a book about Kobe Bryant and then came back and coached him? Who would do that? You name someone in professional sports who would do that,” Pippen continued. “I think he probably exposed Kobe in a way that he shouldn’t have.”

“You’re the head coach and you’re the guy that sits in the locker room and tells players this is a circle and everything stays within the circle, because that’s what team is about. But you as a head coach open it up. And now you go out and try to belittle one of, at that time, the best players in the game.”

Scottie Pippen
Retired professional basketball player Scottie Pippen attends the 2014 GQ Men Of The Year party at Chateau Marmont on December 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GQ)

Patrick noted that Jackson seemed to be more disloyal, rather than a racist.

“That’s your way of putting it out,” Pippen said. “I have mine. I was in the locker room with him. I was in practices with him. You’re looking from afar.”

Pippen was referring to the 2004 book The Last Season, in which Jackson is critical of Bryant. The book was published after Jackson left the Lakers. However, he returned to the team in 2005 and coached Bryant. The Lakers went on to win championships in 2009 and 2010. 

As previously reported by theGrio, Pippen, a 6-time NBA champion who was widely considered ‘Robin’ to Jordan’s ‘Batman,’  was reportedly “livid” about his portrayal in the 2020 docuseries The Last Dance, which chronicled Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls series.

In episode 7 of the docuseries, Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals was featured. The Chicago Bulls were playing the New York Knicks and the game was tied with just seconds left. Jackson made the decision to let Kukoc, a European rookie, take the shot instead of Pippen. 

Pippen was so angry with the call he walked off of the court and sat on the bench. In the docuseries, several players expressed their disappointment in his choice. Recalling that moment, Pippen said, “I wish it never happened, but if I had a chance to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t change it.” 

Scottie Pippen Chicago Bulls
Phil Jackson, Head Coach for the Chicago Bulls talks with his players (Credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to how Jordan is portrayed in the docuseries, Pippen told Patrick, “All those cameras were working for Michael Jordan not the Chicago Bulls.”

“You know all those cameras who was sitting in that huddle, who they was working for?” Pippen asked. “You know who Michael was speaking to, right? That was planned. That was speaking to the camera. That wasn’t speaking out of, what we’re gonna have to do, what the play is gonna be. That was speaking to the camera.

“Had John Stockton not came down — trust me. That was building his own documentary, ’cause he knew he was controlling the cameras.”

Speaking on Jordan’s decision to quit basketball to pursue a baseball career, Pippen called the move “selfish.”

“Yeah It was a big decision, but It was a selfish decision, but it was kind of who Michael Jordan was. That was a guy who believed he can do anything on his own.”

theGrio’s Janesha Jones contributed to this report.

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