Despite the fact that Michael Jordan retired at the end of the 1992-93 NBA campaign, the Chicago Bulls were still really, really good the following season. Chicago finished 1993-94 with a 55-27 record, just two fewer wins than they had the previous season, before making the conference semifinals and losing to the New York Knicks in seven games.
With Jordan gone, Scottie Pippen took over as the team’s No. 1 option, and while it’s hard to find anyone who thinks Pippen was better than Jordan, there were benefits to having him as the team’s top dog.
“Scottie was our prime motivator, initiator, organize the offense, he really stepped into that role,” Phil Jackson said.
“Everyone expected me to try to be the man, but we beat teams by committee and we learned to play together, and share the ball, and win together,” Pippen said.
Pippen at the helm of the triangle offense gave Chicago a more egalitarian, ball movement-heavy approach, something that worked out well for the team as it was constructed. And beyond that, Pippen’s leadership style was a breath of fresh air compared to Jordan’s desire to rule with an iron fist.
“Great,” Pippen said about the team’s first year without Jordan. “They had nobody yelling at ‘em, they got up plenty of shots.”
“Michael would just bludgeon everybody around him,” Steve Kerr said. “Scottie was the much softer touch. He was the guy who would sort of comfort you when things weren’t going well, put his arm around you and say, ‘Hang in there, you’ll be alright.’”
As we’ve seen throughout the doc, Jordan’s style at the helm of the Bulls was not for everyone, as he loved challenging his teammates in an effort to make them better. That style won three titles in a row (and eventually three more), but for a year-plus, Pippen did a good job exerting his influence on the franchise.e