Pippen joins game’s greats in basketball’s Hall of Fame
The final chapter of the unlikely story of Scottie Pippen’s playing career essentially came to fruition on Friday, when the Bulls legend was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of its Class of 2010.
Remembered as one of the best complimentary players in league history but a superstar in his own right, Pippen delivered an eight-minute speech during the enshrinement ceremony at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass., in which he thanked several individuals who helped him arrive at that moment and recalled the Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s.
“I played this game that I love so much and everything I had, I laid it out there,” Pippen said. “I have also tried to live my life in the way that would make the people I love and care about proud of me. I have so much to be thankful for. I have been able to live my dream of playing basketball surrounded by people I love and being cheered on by the best fans in the world.”
During his enshrinement, Pippen shared the stage with Michael Jordan, whom he chose as his presenter. But Pippen was no sidekick on that evening.
“Who knew that No. 23 would be here 23 years later presenting me into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame?” said Pippen referring to when he arrived in Chicago the fall of 1987. “MJ, you have touched so many people’s lives, but none like mine. Thank you for being the best teammate; I will always cherish that experience and I will cherish our relationship forever.”
Joining Pippen and his family in Springfield were several former coaches and teammates. The long list of attendees included both his high school and college coaches—Donald Wayne and Donald Dyer, respectively, former Central Arkansas teammate and childhood friend Ronnie Martin, and former Bulls teammates Jud Buechler, Randy Brown, Steve Kerr, Pete Myers, Charles Oakley, Dennis Rodman and Bill Wennington.
“I’ve got a lot of people here tonight and I’m going to need them to hold me up through this,” said Pippen earlier in the day. “It’s been a joyous ride.”
Pippen didn't just enter as in individual; he was also enshrined as part of the 1992 Dream Team which easily claimed the gold medal in the Barcelona Summer Olympics.
"It was truly an enjoyable moment in my life that I will never forget having the opportunity to play for two gold medals," Pippen said. "But I think nothing sticks out more than winning a championship in 1991 for me. When you're with your teammates for so long and so many years and you have that one common goal and you finally achieve it, it's definitely much more special to me than winning a gold medal.
"I went through ups and downs as a young player dealing with criticism and things of that nature," Pippen continued. "To finally win that first NBA championship, it was definitely a relief of a lot of pressure and frustration we dealt with as a team. It was great to bring a championship to the city of Chicago."
It was during that first championship Phil Jackson made a key decision to assign Pippen to Magic Johnson following the Bulls' Game 1 loss in Chicago. The move paid off as the Bulls won four consecutive games to take the series.
"It was fun, being able to guard a guy I had idolized my whole career and had much respect for him as a player and person," recalled Pippen. "It was probably one of my fondest days to guard him at that stage in my career. Obviously, Magic was at the end of his career. But it was a huge thrill to me to be put on that stage of playing the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Nothing can top that. If I had an opportunity to hand-pick a team that I wanted to play in the NBA Finals, it would probably be the Lakers."
Between his former Bulls and Dream Team teammates on hand, certainly Pippen's evening following the enshrinement held plenty trips down memory lane. As he was asked about his career, he said he hopes one common theme will always come up with his career and legacy are discussed—winning.
"That's what I'm about," Pippen said hours before the ceremony. "When I look back on my career, I want to be remembered for that."