Childhood & Early Life
Born on September 25, 1965 in Hamburg, Arkansas, Scottie Pippen is the youngest of the 12 children of Ethel and Preston Pippen. Ethel was 6 feet tall while Preston was 6'1" and all their children have inherited the trait, with Scottie, at 6'8", being the tallest. Preston was employed at a paper mill until he suffered a stroke that rendered his right side paralysed. It drastically limited his ability to speak and move. He passed away on May 10, 1990.
Pippen’s passion for basketball developed early. As a youth, he aspired to make the winning shot in the seventh game of an NBA championship one day. He studied at Hamburg High School where he played for their basketball program, the Hamburg Lions.
Despite his impressive high school performance, he did not attract any interest from the college scouts and eventually enrolled at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. In the four years (1983-87) he played for the Central Arkansas Bears, he appeared in 93 games, scoring 17.2 points per game in average.
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Scottie Pippen made himself available for the 1987 NBA draft and was picked by the Seattle SuperSonics as their fifth overall pick. They subsequently gave him to the Bulls in exchange for Olden Polynice and future draft options.
On November 7, 1987, he made his NBA debut against the Philadelphia 76ers and scored 10 points, 2 steals, 4 assists and 1 rebound, helping the Bulls win their season opener. He ended his first season in NBA with 7.9 points per game in average in 79 games.
In the 1988-89 season, he played 73 games, started 56 of those and scored 14.4 points per game in average. Jordan, who was already a senior member of the team, took the young rookie from Arkansas under his wing.
In the following season, Pippen’s performance drastically improved and he made his debut appearance in the NBA All-Star Team. At the turn of the decade, he became one of the league’s most promising young forward.
In the 1990-91 season, the Bulls’ coach Phil Jackson employed Pippen masterfully, so that he could contribute to the team to the best of his ability. Pippen was the Bulls’ primary defensive stopper and a key feature in Jackson’s triangle offence.
He started all the 82 games he appeared in and scored 17.8 points per game in average in the regular 1990-91 season. In the playoffs, his superlative form continued. He scored 21.6 points per game in average as the Bulls defeated Los Angeles Lakers to win their inaugural NBA Championship.
He played a pivotal role in the Bulls’ achievement of their first three-peat. He scored 21.0 points per game in average in 82 games in the 1991-92 regular season and 19.5 points per game in average in 22 games in the playoffs. In the finals, the Bulls faced the Portland Trail Blazers and defeated them 4–2.
In the 1992-93 season, he averaged 18.6 points per game in the regular season and 20.1 points per game in the playoffs. The Bulls, led by Jordan, encountered Charles Barkley’s Phoenix Suns in the finals and went on to win the series 4–2.
Prior to the 1993-94 season, the Bulls underwent several changes as a result of Jordan’s first retirement. In his absence, Pippen had to step up to lead the team and he did. He led the team to the playoffs by registering a career-high 22.0 points per game in average in the regular season.
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The most controversial moment of his career occurred in the Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks. They were down 2–0 in the series and the Bulls needed to win the third game to keep the hope of making it to the conference finals. Jackson came up with a gameplay in which the last play was designated to rookie Toni Kukoč while Pippen was supposed to inbound the basketball.
The notion ended up infuriating Pippen who had been leading the team throughout the season in the absence of Jordan. He stayed on the bench, refusing to re-enter the court. While Kukoč made the shot and the Bulls won the game, a grim-faced Jackson was seen leaving the court immediately. Steve Kerr, who was playing for the Bulls during this period, later commented that he did not know what had got into Pippen that day as he was normally a team player.
In the Bulls’ second season without Jordan, Pippen averaged 21.4 points per game in 79 games. He once more led the team to the playoffs and they were once again defeated in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
With Jordan’s return prior to the 1995-96 season and the acquisition of two-time champion Dennis Rodman, the Bulls built their team around their three star players. During the regular season, they won 72 matches and lost 10, which was an NBA record at the time.
Pippen appeared in 77 matches and scored 19.4 points per game in average in the 1995-96 season. In the playoffs, he played in 18 matches and scored 16.9 points per game in average, helping his team secure their fourth NBA title.
Pippen’s critical contribution in the following two seasons made sure that the Bulls registered their second three-peat. During the 1997 playoffs, he suffered an injury on his foot in the Eastern Conference semifinals but played and helped the Bulls win the first game of the NBA finals against the Utah Jazz. The Bulls later won the finals 4–2. The Bulls completed the three-peat in 1998 after they defeated the Utah Jazz once more in the NBA finals.
For the 1998-99 season, Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets, with whom he played for one season before going to Portland Trail Blazers and spending four seasons there. He ended his NBA career with the Chicago Bulls after the 2003-04 season with a career record of 1,178 games and 16.1 points per game in average in the regular season and 208 games and 17.5 points per game in average in the playoffs.
Scottie Pippen was a member of two gold medal-winning American basketball teams. He was part of the legendary US basketball delegation to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, dubbed as “The Dream Team”. Besides Pippen and his teammate Jordan, the delegation included Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. They had an easy tournament, defeating their opponents by 44 points on average to eventually win the gold medal against Croatia.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics was no different. While Jordan and Bird had retired, Pippen and Barkley were still there. Nicknamed “Dream Team 3”, they won all their matches en-route to the gold medal against Yugoslavia.
In 2008, Pippen played for Torpan Pojat of Helsinki, Finland and Sundsvall Dragons of Sundsvall, Sweden before formally announcing his retirement.
Scottie Pippen has been married twice. He married his first wife, Karen McCollum, in 1988. Their son Antron was born in 1987. After they divorced in 1990, he wed Larsa Younan in 1997. They have four children together, Sophia, Justin, Preston, and Scottie Jr. Pippen also has two daughters, Sierra and Taylor, from other relationships.
Pippen often appears as himself in TV shows and films. There is a multitude of songs that contain references to the Bulls, the Dream Team, or Pippin personally. There is also a considerable amount of literature written about him.