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Background: One of the most versatile and talented players in basketball, 6-foot-7 Scottie Pippen can pass like a point guard, rebound like a power forward, score like a shooting guard, and run and jump like few others. He also ranks among the NBA's top defenders. A key piece of the Chicago Bulls' three-time NBA Championship club of the early 1990s and a five-time All-Star, he has been honored with a pair of selections to the All-NBA First Team as well as appearances on the Second Team and the Third Team. He has also been a member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times and the NBA All-Defensive Second Team once.
Pippen came to the NBA after four years at the University of Central Arkansas, an NAIA school. He averaged only 4.3 points as a freshman and received little attention for much of his college career, despite improving quickly and steadily. Finally, after averaging 23.6 points and 10.0 rebounds as a senior, Pippen found himself a hot commodity in the 1987 NBA Draft.
The Seattle SuperSonics took Pippen with the fifth overall pick, then traded his rights to the Chicago Bulls for the rights to Olden Polynice and other considerations. Pippen put up modest numbers in his first season in the NBA.
It was as a second-year player that Pippen began to show the variety of skills that have made him a superstar and a constant triple-double threat. In 1988-89 he logged 14.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He upped his numbers in each of the next three seasons, improving to 21.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game in 1991-92. Along the way, he played in two All-Star Games and earned two NBA Championship rings. Although his stats declined slightly in 1992-93, he helped lift the club to its third straight NBA title.
Following the surprise temporary retirement of Michael Jordan before the 1993-94 season, Pippen was thrust into the role of team leader. He recorded career highs of 22.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and guided the team to a surprising 55-27 record. Playing in his fourth All-Star Game, he scored 29 points in 31 minutes and was named the game's MVP. He also earned his first selection to the All-NBA First Team. He put up similar numbers in 1994-95, pouring in 21.4 points per game. Following the 1994-95 season, Pippen was named to the 1996 U.S. Dream Team, which will compete in the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Transactions: Selected by the Seattle SuperSonics in the first round (fifth pick overall) of the 1987 NBA Draft. Draft rights traded by the SuperSonics to the Chicago Bulls for the draft rights to Olden Polynice, a 1988 or 1989 second-round draft choice, and the option to exchange 1989 first-round draft choices on 6/22/87.
1994-95: With a superb season in 1994-95, Pippen continued to show why he is possibly the best all-around player in the NBA. Discounting the numbers put up by Michael Jordan in 17 late-season games, Pippen led the Chicago Bulls in five categories-scoring (21.4 ppg), rebounding (8.1 rpg), assists (5.2 apg), steals (2.94 per game), and blocked shots (1.13 per game). The last player to top his club in five categories before Pippen was Dave Cowens, who paced the Boston Celtics in 1977-78. On the league leaders' charts, Pippen placed first in steals, 12th in scoring, 23rd in rebounding, 23rd in assists, and 28th in blocked shots. For his efforts, he was rewarded with an All-Star berth and selection to both the All-NBA First Team and the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Pippen, who paced the club in scoring in 35 games, hit for a season-high 40 points on March 11 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He popped in 30 or more on eight occasions and pulled down a season-high 16 rebounds twice. On January 10 he recorded the 14th triple-double of his career with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and a season-high 11 assists against the Orlando Magic. Pippen sat out one game because of a suspension and missed a pair of games because of the flu.
The Bulls finished the regular season at 47-35 to claim third place in the Central Division. They ousted the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the Orlando Magic in the conference semifinals. With Jordan back on the club, Pippen wasn't called on to provide quite as much of the offense, and his playoff scoring (17.8 ppg) was down a bit compared with his regular-season numbers. He led the club in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and assists (5.8 apg).
1993-94: In 1993-94 Pippen was afforded the opportunity to step out of Michael Jordan's massive shadow into a spotlight all his own. Jordan's temporary retirement on October 6 meant that the Chicago Bulls would clearly be Pippen's team for a short while. For his part, the former Central Arkansas star enjoyed his finest statistical year as a pro, notching career bests in scoring (22.0 ppg), rebounding (8.7 rpg), and steals (2.93 per game). He was also selected to start in his third NBA All-Star Game (his fourth overall appearance). Pippen outshone all other All-Stars with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists and won the game's Most Valuable Player Award.
Pippen finished the season ranked eighth in the league in scoring, second in steals, and 19th in assists. He led the Bulls in all three categories, ranked second on the team in rebounding, and led Chicago in scoring 50 times, in assists 35 times, and in rebounding 29 times. At season's end he was named to the All-NBA First Team and the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Perhaps the greatest testament to Pippen's abilities (and those of Coach Phil Jackson) was the fact that the Bulls finished at 55-27 and reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals despite not having Jordan on their roster. In Chicago's 10 postseason games, Pippen led the club in scoring (22.8 ppg), rebounding (8.3 rpg), and assists (4.6 apg). The Bulls lost in the conference semifinals to the New York Knicks, ending their three-year hold on the championship.
Pippen's most embarrassing moment as a player came in Game 3 of the series against the Knicks. With the game tied at 102 apiece, Pippen decided to watch the final seconds from the bench after Jackson diagrammed a last-second play to go to Toni Kukoc and not Pippen. Kukoc cashed in on a 22-footer at the buzzer for a 104-102 Bulls win, but the headlines the following day centered around Pippen sitting, not Kukoc swishing.
1992-93: As the 1992-93 season unfolded, Pippen's popularity continued to soar, in Chicago and around the league. NBA fans made him the second-leading vote-getter in balloting for the NBA All-Star Game, trailing only teammate Michael Jordan. He also earned his second straight berth on the NBA All-Defensive First Team as well as a spot on the All-NBA Third Team.
Pippen logged four triple-doubles during the year en route to averages of 18.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. He ranked 10th in the NBA in steals (2.14 per game) and 20th in assists. He had a consecutive-games streak snapped at 307 when he was suspended for one game after fighting with the Orlando Magic's Jeff Turner on February 25, but he bounced back to score a season-high 39 points against the San Antonio Spurs on March 5.
Pippen played a workmanlike 41.5 minutes per game in the postseason, helping the Bulls to their third straight NBA title. He had his best series in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Knicks, averaging 22.5 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting .510 from the floor.
1991-92: Pippen established himself as one of the NBA's elite players in 1991-92. He appeared in his second NBA All-Star Game, originally selected as a reserve but eventually starting in place of the injured Larry Bird, and at season's end he landed on the All-NBA Second Team and the NBA All-Defensive First Team. He played for the United States Dream Team at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, and above all he helped lead the Bulls to their second consecutive NBA Championship.
Pippen ranked 14th in the league in scoring (21.0 ppg) and 15th in assists (7.0 apg). He added 7.7 rebounds, 1.89 steals, and 1.13 blocks per game. His season highlights included a 41-point performance against the Bucks at Milwaukee on February 28 and a then career-high 18 rebounds against the Knicks at New York on March 31.
During Chicago's march to a second straight title, the Bulls encountered their greatest roadblock in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, needing seven games to move past the New York Knicks. Pippen was pivotal in Game 7, recording his second playoff triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
1990-91: Pippen used the 1991 postseason to prove that the Chicago Bulls were no one-man gang. Although Michael Jordan carried the Bulls at times en route to their first-ever NBA Championship, Pippen was equally indispensable. He averaged 21.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.47 steals in 17 postseason games, leading Chicago in both rebounding and steals. In the fifth and final game of the 1991 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, Pippen contributed 32 points and 13 rebounds as the Bulls notched a 108-101 victory.
The playoffs represented another step in Pippen's march to superstardom. He had done it all for the Bulls in the regular season, ranking second on the team in scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) while leading the club in assists (6.2 apg) and blocked shots (1.13 per game). His 2.35 steals per game ranked fifth in the NBA-second on the Bulls behind Jordan's 2.72-and helped earn him a berth on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
Pippen recorded three triple-doubles during the year and poured in a then career-high 43 points against the Charlotte Hornets on February 23. He became the first Bulls player other than Jordan to score 40 points in a game since George Gervin had 45 on January 27, 1986.
1989-90: Pippen started all 82 games for the first time in his career, improving his production over the previous season in nearly every category. He began the year with a 22-game streak of double-figure scoring, including a season-high 28 points against the Boston Celtics on November 4. His best stretch came in December, when he averaged 18.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists while shooting .525 from the field.
Eastern Conference coaches rewarded Pippen's all-around contributions when they selected him to play in his first NBA All-Star Game in 1990. He did double-duty at the NBA All-Star Weekend, also participating in the Slam-Dunk Championship and finishing fifth. For the season, Pippen ranked second on the Bulls in scoring (16.5 ppg) and third in the NBA in steals (2.57 per game), coming into his own as one of the league's best defensive players.
The Bulls advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season, but for the second straight season they lost to the Detroit Pistons, this time in seven games. Pippen was outstanding throughout the playoffs, averaging 19.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in 15 postseason games. He notched his first playoff triple-double with 17 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds in Game 1 of a first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks.
1988-89: Back surgery kept Pippen out of the entire preseason and the first eight games of 1988-89. He then came off the bench behind Brad Sellers in his first 16 appearances, averaging 9.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game. But Pippen moved into the starting lineup on December 27 and remained there for 56 of his final 57 games.
The second-year forward finished with averages of 14.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He scored 31 points twice during the year, the second time against the Seattle SuperSonics on March 25. He had season highs of 15 rebounds against the Trail Blazers at Portland on March 24 and 12 assists against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 3. In the game against the Clippers, Pippen recorded his first career triple-double, adding 15 points and 10 rebounds.
He started all 17 postseason games, averaging 13.1 points as the Bulls advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Detroit Pistons in six games. Pippen played only 1 minute of Game 6 before taking a Bill Laimbeer elbow to the head.
1987-88: In the months prior to the 1987 NBA Draft, Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause became impressed with the multidimensional talents of Scottie Pippen, a little-known player at the University of Central Arkansas. Pippen attracted attention from NBA scouts with averages of 23.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game as a senior, but he was still an unknown quantity compared to players in big-time college programs.
The Bulls owned the eighth overall pick in the draft, but Pippen didn't last that long. The Seattle SuperSonics selected him at No. 5, behind the likes of David Robinson, Armon Gilliam, and Reggie Williams. Chicago picked Olden Polynice at No. 8, and Krause immediately got the trade winds blowing. By June 22 he had orchestrated a deal with the Sonics that sent Polynice and future draft considerations to Seattle in exchange for Pippen.
The lanky 6-foot-7 rookie came off the bench in his first NBA season, playing a reserve role behind starting small forward Brad Sellers. Pippen averaged 7.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, shooting .463 from the field and .576 from the free-throw line. He had his best game on November 23 against the Boston Celtics, tallying 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 steals in 38 minutes. His 91 steals for the season ranked second on the Bulls to Michael Jordan's 259.
Pippen began the postseason as a reserve, but he replaced Sellers in the starting lineup in the fifth and final game of a first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Pippen responded with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals in the Bulls' 107-101 victory, and Coach Doug Collins elected to keep him in a starting role for the next round. Chicago then lost to the Detroit Pistons in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.