Almost 30 years ago, when Michael Jordan was retired from basketball and trying to make his way to the top as a baseball player, he advised George Karl to trade for none other than Scottie Pippen, Michael’s sidekick during his time with the Chicago Bulls.
During the 1994 NBA draft, Jordan told Karl to put together a package to bring Pippen to Seattle if the team had any aspiration of winning the NBA title. However, the pressure from the fans and the backlash prevented the Sonics owner from pulling off the move, leaving it as one of the biggest what if in the league history.
Back in 1994, Sam Smith of Chicago Tribune detailed what needed to happen to make the deal a reality.
Sources close to Karl said the Seattle coach, who was a player at North Carolina and a frequent golfing partner of Jordan, spent much of the last several days consulting with friends and associates about the deal and that Jordan told him, “You’ll be getting the best of it.” He said he thought the deal would assure Seattle a championship next season.
But the widely reported trade-Pippen for Shawn Kemp and Ricky Pierce and a swap of draft picks-would have to be seriously changed to make it work, for salary-cap reasons.
That’s because Seattle now has changed directions and is close to trading the No. 11 draft pick, Carlos Rogers, and Pierce to Golden State for Sarunas Marciulionis and Byron Houston.
That would have been a terrific deal for the Sonics. Pippen was the best partner for Jordan during their championship runs. In the end, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton took the Sonics to the Finals, but two guys named Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen stopped them, capturing their 4th of six titles. Seattle could have had that fate, but the owner of the team, Barry Ackerly, told otherwise.