Scottie Pippen Was The Happiest Man Alive When Michael Jordan Retired For The First Time

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No one knows what it’s like to go from the No. 2 option to the star of a team as abruptly as Scottie Pippen. His career is defined by his sidekick role to Michael Jordan on the six championship winning Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s, but in 1993 Pippen was thrust into the starring role when Jordan retired to go play baseball.

On Tuesday, Pippen appeared on ESPN’s “The Jump with Rachel Nichols” and explained that no one was happier about Jordan’s retirement than he was in 1994.

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“I was the happiest man alive,” Pippen said. “I got a chance to be the man for a change… It’s something you embrace as a player, especially when you’re in a position where you’re probably not going to get that spotlight like myself playing with Michael. So when he retired, I was very happy, but I did want him to come back.”

However, after some time in the spotlight as the leading man, and with the Bulls struggling a bit in the 94-95 season, Pippen was ready for Jordan’s return.

“Going through those two years, I started to get a little bit sad,” Pippen said. “But he saw it and decided to come back.”

The context of the conversation about Jordan’s retirement and Pippen becoming the star on his own was in reference to Russell Westbrook now being the man in Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant gone. While Pippen has experience with another star leaving, Westbrook and Durant were more 1a and 1b than a first and second option, so the comparison isn’t quite perfect. Pippen noted that he felt Westbrook was doing a great job as the leading man and wasn’t bothered by Durant’s absence, which is pretty apparent in Westbrook’s production this season with over 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists per game on average.