Steve Kerr weighed in on the controversy created during the second episode of ‘The Last Dance’ documentary aired on Sunday. A big part of that episode was focused on Scottie Pippen and the 7-year, $18 contract he signed with the Bulls at the beginning of the 90s.
That contract saw Pippen spent the best years of his career being underpaid while becoming the second-best player in the NBA. Jordan took an unexpected stance on this, disagreeing with Pippen’s decision to delay his foot surgery to enjoy the summer and get rest during the season.
“Scottie was wrong in that scenario,” Jordan said in the episode. “He could’ve got his surgery done as soon as the season was over and be ready for the season. What Scottie was trying to do was trying to force management to change his contract. And [owner Jerry Reinsdorf] was never going to do that.”
The Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr recalled how the rest of the players saw that contract situation and the delay of the injury completely different from Jordan. During an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN, Kerr revealed other than Jordan, the Bulls players were on Scottie’s side in that scenario, calling him the most beloved player on the roster.
“Everyone respected Scottie so much,” Kerr said. “We felt his frustration. He probably should have been the second-highest-paid guy in the NBA or definitely top-five. So we all felt for him, nobody resented him for having that surgery. Later, we all understood, let’s give him his space, and he’s going to be there for the second stretch of the season for us.”
“He was the best defensive player in the league — by far,” Kerr said. “On top of all that, I think this documentary is showing how tough Michael was on his teammates. Scottie was sort of the counterbalance to that. He was the one who made us all feel comfortable and confident. He was beloved on that team. He was such an incredible teammate and player. It was amazing to watch him work every single night and play with him.”
That is not a surprise, as Pippen was probably the favorite teammate in the Bulls locker room. Kerr appeared on ‘The Lowe Post’ on Monday, where he talked about the differences between Pippen and Jordan. While Michael was all intimidation and yelling, Pippen was more fraternal, as we always tried to make sure his teammates were good.
“One of the reasons Scottie was beloved, not only by Michael but all of us, is because he was such a perfect complement to Michael. Michael was the hardass, he was the guy who was coming at you and you gotta be ready every single day for his criticism, his force, his intimidation, and Scottie was the one who balanced everything out. He was the guy who put his arms around you and made sure you were ok. Scottie was beloved by everybody, including Michael, but he was a phenomenal basketball player.”
Pippen and Jordan were two different types of leaders, but that didn’t prevent them from winning six titles together. However, everybody believes Michael should have backed up his teammate there, but we all know how competitive and how focused on winning he was.