Bulls legend Scottie Pippen back with the team
Scottie Pippen is back with the team in which he won six world championships and played 12 of his 17 legendary NBA seasons.
Pippen has rejoined the Bulls as an ambassador, meaning he’ll be a very visible presence moving forward at home games, team events and other community-related functions.
“It’s great to be back with the organization,” Pippen said while at the United Center on Thursday. “I don’t feel like I ever left, I just wasn’t as active as I look forward to being in the future. To be part of the Bulls family again means a lot to me. I’ve always cheered them on no matter how far away I was at the time and wished them the best. Hopefully, I can bring something positive to the organization as it tries to re-develop that winning tradition.
“I am really looking forward to being more involved in the community,” Pippen added. “That is an area in which you can never do enough. CharitaBulls has donated so much time and effort into helping different groups and organizations for many years. It’s an area in which I’d like to come back and be very strong, giving back and working with the kids.”
Though the relationship is again official, Pippen has never distanced himself from the organization that started his professional career, one that will culminate with his induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame next month. He’s been a regular contributor to the team’s web site, Bulls.com, and remains close with members of the front office, including John Paxson, Pete Myers and Randy Brown.
While Pippen, his wife, Larsa, and their three boys—Scottie, Preston and Justin—have spent winters living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the family is now back in the Chicago area full-time.
“I’ve sort of been a snow bird the last few years, just enjoying my retirement,” said Pippen. “But I’m looking forward to moving back and seeing first-hand how the team develops. For me to help put an emphasis on different parts of the game is something I’m excited about as well.”
Since his retirement in 2004, Pippen has remained close to the basketball world. The seven-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist has made several international trips to Russia and China for camps, appearances and other functions on behalf of the sport.
“Those were great trips to be able to go overseas and promote the game of basketball,” said Pippen. “We tried to keep building the game and the international excitement around it. To come back to the Bulls and have an opportunity along those lines is a great fit and a very comfortable place for me.”
Over the last few years, Pippen had flirted with the idea of getting into coaching and was even offered multiple head coaching jobs at the collegiate level.
In the spring, he reached out to Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to express his desire about returning to the team in some capacity. Following the announcement that Pippen was named to basketball's Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010 in April, he started to think more about his future and concluded he wanted to re-align with the Bulls.
“Jerry has been very warm towards me over the years and has never turned me down for anything,” said Pippen.
Once again, Reinsdorf was receptive to Pippen’s thoughts and he passed along word of his desire to other members of the team’s office. It didn’t take long before a more precise plan was formulated and Pippen was on board once again.
“It’s a first step for me,” Pippen said of his new role. “I do want to continue moving forward in the game, but my job as ambassador will allow me to take advantage of some of my stronger points. It’s an opportunity for me to give back to an organization which has pretty much given me everything. That will be especially true with the work we do away from the basketball court when we’re in the community, because I’m obviously not a player anymore.”
That being said, Pippen acknowledges that coaching could very much still be a possibility down the road. A self-proclaimed student of the game, he expects to keep close tabs on the work being done at the Berto Center to offer his assistance and expertise when called upon.
“It’s going to be fun to watch how this team meshes,” said Pippen. “They’ve picked up some nice pieces in Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver from this free agency market. As Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng continue to mature, this team should be ready to take a significant step forward.”
This week, Pippen is heading home to Arkansas to visit family. In less than a month, he’ll be in Springfield, Massachusetts for his Hall of Fame induction on August 13. It’s a full plate with a lot of changes on the way, but he’s excited for what’s to come.
“I’m just waiting for the moment,” said Pippen of his plans between now and then. “The Hall of Fame is an unbelievably huge honor for me, but at the same time, I have to do something in life to keep active and involved.”