Scottie Pippen No. 33 Retirement Press Conference
Scottie Pippen Tribute Section | Pippen's Top 10 Greatest Moments
"It will probably one of the happiest nights of my life," Pippen said of this Friday. "Hopefully, it will be the most celebrated night in the United Center."
“First of all, I want to thank everyone for coming. As you know, this week is a great event for me, a day that I hope will last forever. Before I get into all that I want to give thanks to the Chicago Bulls organization for giving me the opportunity to put my number in the rafters. I want to thank John Paxson for bringing me in here, Mr. Reinsdorf, Steve Schanwald; a lot of people who spent a lot of years here during my tenure, along with Lacy Banks. It has been beautiful for me. I want thank all the fans for many great years of basketball throughout my career. It has been a very special career for me.”
How much does it mean to have Phil Jackson and everyone else here on Friday?
“It is going to be great. A lot of players are coming, and having Phil here, it is always special to see him. I was not here when they put Phil up in the rafters, but to have him here will bring back a lot of great memories. I am happy to have him and lot of other players here to share it.”
Where does this rank among all the honors and accomplishments?
“Well, it is hard to put it in perspective right now, to be honest with you. I am sure that as the time continues I will start to feel a little emotional about what is going to happen Friday night. Having your number in the rafters is always something that as a kid, you watch a lot of great athletes in different sports have an opportunity to do. It is something that you dream of happening to you. To say that it is going to happen for me, I have to rank it among the top individual honors that I have ever achieved.”
How would you like to be remembered?
“I sort of look at myself as a great player who played along side the greatest player who ever played the game. I think that is very hard to put that in perspective. You are used to watching, I guess you would say, a pussy cat following a big tiger. I think I earned my stripes in this game. I have been able to go out and do what I thought was the best I could do by leading my team. I just hope people remember that I was a great player and that I was a very fundamental player and that I played hard, and I gave it my all, for all the sixteen years that I was able to put it on the court. Anything after that is a given.”
Can you look back on the times you had contract troubles with the organization?
“If they want to pay me more money… That is just part of the game, the business side of it. It is something every athlete goes through. Things are going to be tough on their side, and I feel pretty strongly about myself. I look back and having your anger on anybody, our relationship probably became closer over the years because I have been able to grow and mature.”
Do you recall your emotions when Michael went through this and how you will react?
“I keep trying to say I will be strong. It is going to be fine. It will probably one of the happiest nights of my life. Hopefully, it will be the most celebrated night in the United Center. If I can keep things in that perspective I will be fine.”
Have you ever thought what might have been if you were not traded to the Bulls on draft day? And are Michael and Horace going to be here on Friday?
“To answer your second question, yes, they are going to be here. I don’t know what would have happened. It would have been different, I am sure. I would not have had the opportunity to be coached by a great coach in Phil Jackson. I would not have had the opportunity to play with so many great teammates. I would not have had the opportunity to play along side Michael Jordan. To put those things in perspective, there are some positives and some negatives. I am very glad that the trade happened.”
Pippen will be joined on Friday by former teammates including Michael Jordan, Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman.
Was there some point that you wanted to emerge from Michael’s shadow?
“Well, I am sure that I did. Looking back it may have been something that I used for negotiating power. Every player wants to see what it is like to do it on their own. I enjoyed doing it the way that my career went. If I had a chance to change it I would not do it.”
Other players have said that you were the best teammate:
“Wow. That is a very high compliment. As a player, I just tried to play the game and make it enjoyable for all our players. That is just how I understood the game. As a young player, that is just how I played on both ends, and I brought that same thing to my professional level. I was able to have that trickle throughout my teammates and it became contagious.”
Did it help your career that you were a late bloomer?
“I think that was probably the best thing that happened to me. I was able to slide in under the radar, not really have a lot of pressure. Even after being drafted here I had the opportunity to play along side Michael Jordan and subsequently it gave me a couple years to develop and to build my confidence. I think it was the greatest thing to happen to me because I had the opportunity to really focus on what I had to do as an individual to get to that level.”
During the second three-peat you attained rock star status:
“Well, it was a different lifestyle compared to where we came from, struggling in the late 80’s against the Pistons, and all the other great teams. It came to the point where we changed the game. We became the most popular team. We became the champs and we were able to do it consistently. We really changed what we saw as basketball. We felt like we did become rock stars. We got fans of every generation and we embraced them. We had all different kind of characters on that basketball. If you didn’t like the wildness of Dennis Rodman you might like the flashiness of Michael Jordan or the subtleness of Scottie Pippen. It was a different team. It was a lot of fun. We appreciate everything the fans did to support us during that long run, the 72 win team and all the other good teams we were able to put together.”
When the team was broken up did you want to continue the run?
“Yes, obviously any player who was a part of that team would have loved to keep that team together for years to come. It did not happen that way. Myself, Michael, we would have loved to continue to play and finish our careers here and let the chips fall where they may. Those are business decisions.”
Is coaching in your future?
“I see it someday. I am staying in the game and keeping up with the players and what is going on in the league. I will always try to be a part of the game. Hopefully one day I can be a part of an organization and get a little closer to what is going on on the court.”
Will we see another team like the champion Bulls?
“The teams that I played on here were very special teams. Hopefully, things that are that special don’t come along that often. I do believe someday there will be a team that maybe will gather some great players that will last maybe not as long as our legacy, but bring a whole different perspective to what a legacy is.”