MANILA, Philippines – Chicago Bulls icons Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen – the subjects of the first two episodes of The Last Dance – both sought greatness, but they had different leadership styles.
Just ask Steve Kerr, who played with the two NBA legends for half a decade.
“I think this documentary is showing how tough Michael was on his teammates,” Kerr told host Rachel Nichols on ESPN show The Jump. “Scottie was sort of the counterbalance to that.”
“He was the one who made us all feel comfortable and confident,” Kerr added of Pippen. “He was beloved on that team. He was such an incredible teammate and an incredible player.”
Jordan was known for being ruthless even to players on his own team and expecting nothing but perfection as the Bulls chased titles season after season.
That may have been caused by the pressure on Jordan to always be at the top of the game as he carried the torch of being the brightest NBA star.
“Make no mistake about it, [Jordan] faced all kinds of scrutiny,” Kerr said.
“I always will maintain that the reason he really went and played baseball was because he was fried emotionally from the scrutiny that really only he felt.”
“By the time I got there and watching the life that he led compared to everybody else, it was insane.”
Jordan being focused on winning alone was evident in Episode 2 when he said that Pippen delaying surgery on his foot that caused him to miss the first half of the 1997-1998 season was a “wrong” move.
“I felt like Scottie was being selfish,” Jordan said. “Worrying about himself as opposed to what his word was to the organization as well as to his team.”
At that time, Pippen had grown frustrated of the Bulls front office due to his salary, which had him as the sixth-highest paid player in the team and the 122nd-highest paid player in the NBA.
However, Kerr said he and his other teammates felt otherwise.
“We felt his frustration with him. He probably should have been the second-highest paid guy in the NBA or definitely top 5,” Kerr said of Pippen.
“He was the best defensive player in the league, by far.”
“We all felt for him. Nobody resented him for having that surgery later.”
Despite asking to be traded in the middle of the 1997-1998 season, Pippen returned and helped the Bulls secure their sixth championship in 8 years as they beat the Utah Jazz in 6 games.
Episodes 3 and 4 of the 10-part miniseries will stream on Netflix on Monday, April 27. – Rappler.com
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