Bust unveiling a humbling experience for Pippen
“Living and playing in Chicago during the 1990s is what stands out the most for me,” said Pippen. “If I could have written a script of how I wanted my career to be, I couldn’t have done it any better. Basketball in general, for us, felt like it was pictur
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Audio—Pippen meets the media following the bust unveiling (04.07.2011):
By Adam Fluck | 04.07.2011
The Chicago Bulls unveiled a bronze bust of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen during a halftime ceremony on Thursday at the United Center.
Bulls television play-by-play announcer Neil Funk was on hand to emcee the ceremony, which included a video tribute and remarks from Pippen. The bust will be permanently displayed inside the United Center on the 100-Level concourse by Gate 7.
“I’m very humbled by it,” said Pippen. “I can’t say thank you to the organization enough to really get across how I feel. I’m truly honored that the Bulls would do this for me.”
Pippen’s wife, Larsa, and their four children—Scotty Jr., Preston, Justin and Sophia—joined him near center court for the ceremony.
John Paxson, the team’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, represented the Bulls and introduced his former teammate.
“It is my great privilege to represent Jerry and Michael Reinsdorf and the entire Bulls organization as we honor you tonight for your great career, a Hall of Fame career,” Paxson told Pippen before a crowd of 23,067. “You will always be a cornerstone of the Chicago Bulls organization and I’m proud to say that this bust of you will be present here at the United Center forever for our fans to come and see.”
Pippen already had a permanent mark in the building where he, Michael Jordan and the Bulls claimed their second three-peat in the 1996, 1997 and 1998 seasons, as his number 33 was retired in December of 2005. Now, bronze bust of the seven-time NBA All-Star will be there as well to provide a fitting complement.
“I am extremely pleased with how it turned out,” Pippen said of the bust. “To be in a position where an organization like the Bulls creates a bust of you that will permanently be displayed in a building like the United Center says it all. It’s hard to put into words because it is such an honor. It’s great to know that something like that will be around forever.”
Also on the court for the ceremony was the sculptor, Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Highwood, Ill.
“I think it will be a real jewel for the Bulls and United Center,” said Rotblatt-Amrany. “I hope that Scottie, as well as the crowd, is very pleased and I think that they will be.”
“I’m very humbled by it,” said Pippen of the bust. “I can’t say thank you to the organization enough to really get across how I feel. I’m truly honored that the Bulls would do this for me.”
Following a 17-year NBA career—12 seasons which were spent with the Bulls—Pippen returned to the organization that gave him his professional start last July as a team ambassador.
In August, he was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of its Class of 2010. More recently, he was honored along with his teammates from the 1990-91 season to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Bulls’ first NBA championship.
“As a player, you experience so many different moments but you never truly sit back and reflect on them,” said Pippen. “You enjoy them, but with the championships, we were so busy celebrating with everyone that we didn’t really realize what we had accomplished as individuals and as a team.”
During an interview earlier this week, Pippen recalled the success in which the Bulls won titles in six of his first 11 professional seasons, becoming one of professional sports’ greatest dynasties.
“Living and playing in Chicago during the 1990s is what stands out the most for me,” said Pippen. “If I could have written a script of how I wanted my career to be, I couldn’t have done it any better. Basketball in general, for us, felt like it was picture perfect at times. We played with the greatest player of all-time, we were in our youth, and we competed for championships the majority of our careers. To be in that situation, I felt pretty fortunate, because you can’t always pick and choose your teammates. I was lucky to play with guys who were not only good players, but great people.”
With the book on his playing career now closed, Pippen has entered a new chapter of life, yet he’s still around what matters the most to him—family and basketball. While he’ll always cherish the memories of his past, it is what’s to come that he also looks forward to with great anticipation.
“I grew up a lot in Chicago and always tried to continue to learn,” said Pippen. “Those things are a part of life. Back then, it was learning how to be a better basketball player and teammate. Now, it’s becoming a better husband and father. I’m blessed to have a wonderful family and live in one of the greatest cities of the world. I’m fortunate to say that it has been a great journey for me.”