It may have sports junkies enraptured, but not everybody is happy with ESPN’s The Last Dance, which looks at the championship Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s.
Specifically, some of Michael Jordan’s former teammates are unhappy with how they were portrayed in the docu-series.
First it was Horace Grant, who publicly voiced his displeasure with being painted as the source who fed private information to Sam Smith for his 1992 book, The Jordan Rules.
Now, it’s Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen who has an issue with the way he was portrayed in the Jordan documentary.
Pippen reportedly hasn’t spoken to his former teammate since the first episode aired on April 19. He was later described as “beyond livid” on ESPN Radio for the way he was made to look.
“It was straight up bulls–t.“
Horace Grant rips #TheLastDance‘s portrayal of Scottie Pippen
“I have to vent now…” 🔥 pic.twitter.com/riEDh4MFhB
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) May 21, 2020
“(Pippen) felt like up until the last few minutes of Game 6 against the Jazz (in the 1998 NBA Finals), it was just ‘bash Scottie, bash Scottie, bash Scottie,’ ” David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 in Chicago said.
The issue stems from Pippen’s decision to undergo ankle surgery at the start of the 1997-98 NBA season instead of during the off-season.
He delayed his surgery to prove a point: Pippen rightfully felt he was far more valuable to the Bulls than the five-year, $US18-million deal he signed.
But in the documentary, Jordan slammed Pippen for waiting until the beginning of the season: “I thought Scottie was being selfish,” he said, “worrying about himself instead of what his word was to the organisation and to the team.”
Bulls legend Dennis Rodman came to Pippen’s defence and said he should be remembered as one of the two or three best players to play the game.
“Scottie was so underrated – and so underpaid. He should be holding his head up higher than Michael Jordan in this documentary,” Rodman told ESPN.
“I think a lot of people are now realising what he went through. The kid was a hero, in a lot of ways, during those great Bulls runs.”
Pippen isn’t a top-three player of all-time: LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have something to say about that. But there’s no question he was significantly underpaid for his role in each of the Bulls’ six championship rings.
There’s also no question that he put himself in the predicament he was in, choosing long-term stability in a five-year deal instead of heeding the advice of Bulls owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, who told him not to sign the contract.
Reinsdorf, in the Jordan doc, said after he warned Pippen not to sign the contract, he also told him not to ask to renegotiate if he did.
Grant also had a gripe with Jordan for what he says is a huge lie: that Jordan took his food away on a flight after a bad game.
“Anybody (who) knows me, as a rookie, if anybody comes up and tries to snatch my food away, I’m going to do my best to beat their ass,” Grant said.
Horace Grant says MJ never took food away from him
“I would’ve beat his ass…It wouldn’t be no Air Jordan right now. It wouldn’t be no six championships, I guarantee you that.”
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) May 22, 2020
“And believe me, back then, I could have took MJ in a heartbeat. Yes, it’s true that he told the flight attendant, ‘Well, don’t give him anything because he played like crap.’ And I went right back at him. I said some choice words that I won’t repeat here. But I said some choice words and stood up. ‘If you want it, you come and get it.’ And of course, he didn’t move. He was just barking. But that was the story.”
The next Bulls dynasty reunion should be an interesting one.