During the height of their run together, nobody had any doubts about the relationship between Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
But now, over 20 years later, Pippen has painted a different picture, illuminating some of the issues he had (and still has) with Jordan and the way he treated his teammates.
Of course, it's not just Jordan's other-worldly fame that generated tension. In Roland Lazenby's MJ biography, he details how Pippen's friendship with Horace Grant became an issue in the locker room...
His fast friendship with the Bulls’ other first-round pick, Horace Grant, helped him adjust that first year.
The two of them came to Chicago the next day after the draft and went to a White Sox game,” Cheryl Raye-Stout recalled. “They were sitting in the dugout with their Bulls caps on. They forged a friendship immediately.… And it translated onto the court because they felt really good about each other. They both had a lot of maturing to do. Scottie had it the most difficult coming from an NAIA school. Not being used to ever having media around, it was quite a shock for him.
The relationship between the two rookies became an infatuation of sorts. “Scottie is like my twin brother,” explained Grant, who already had a twin brother, Harvey, also an NBA player. Pippen became his surrogate twin. The two shopped together, double-dated together, drove the same type of car, and lived near each other in suburban Northbrook. They even got married a week apart and served as each other’s best man. It was the kind of relationship that cast an odd bent to the Bulls’ already awkward chemistry.
He went on to describe one incident in which Pippen literally skipped a Bulls practice to mourn his dead cat, which was followed by Grant joining Scottie to help him "grieve."
“Scottie called in one day and skipped practice because his cat died,” recalled former trainer Mark Pfeil. “Horace called about fifteen minutes later and said he was with Scottie because of the grieving. Johnny Bach, our assistant coach, was absolutely furious. He got Horace on the phone and said, ‘You get here. You oughta throw the cat in the garbage can.’ Horace, when the team got together, wanted to have a moment of silence for Scottie’s cat.
Naturally, Michael Jordan (being the competitor he is) wasn't a huge fan of those shenanigans, and eventually even made it known to Pippen (in a joking way) just how frustrated he was.
Such nonsense irritated Jordan. Krause recalled that practices soon became more entertaining than games in Chicago, with Jordan hunkering down and yelling at Pippen, “I’m gonna kick your ass!”
The whole thing is quite bizarre, especially given the time period this took place in. It's kind of wild to think that while Jordan and Pippen were dominating the court, there was stuff like this going on behind the scenes.
Together, the duo won six Championships over an 8-year span, an undoubtedly impressive mark.
Still, one has to wonder, how they were really feeling about each other at the time.