Reinsdorf expects Pippen to get Hall of Fame call
“He certainly deserves to be named to the Hall of Fame and it would be an outrage if he were not,” said Reinsdorf. “He was an incredibly complete, all-around ballplayer. He was great on offense and arguably better on defense.”
Along with former Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone, Pippen is considered to be a lock to get the Hall call, as is the 1992 United States Men's Olympic "Dream Team" on which they both played. The announcement will be made during the Final Four in Indianapolis.
During a phone interview this week, Reinsdorf recalled Pippen’s arrival in Chicago, which nearly did not happen.
“We were pretty confident he hadn’t been seen by a lot of teams and that he would be available when it became our turn to draft,” Reinsdorf said of Pippen, who played for tiny University of Central Arkansas, then an NAIA school.
However, Pippen’s performance at the pre-draft Portsmouth Invitational Tournament sent his stock soaring and his lottery status was suddenly solidified. Then General Manager Jerry Krause and the Bulls were determined to get their man, so a deal was struck.
Pippen was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1987 NBA Draft and his draft rights were traded to Chicago for Olden Polynice and future considerations. The Bulls also selected Clemson product Horace Grant with the tenth pick.
“We were afraid he was going to get drafted ahead of us. We worked pretty hard on the deal to move up and get him,” said Reinsdorf. “We were very excited at the time, because we felt getting both Scottie and Horace could very well lead us to a championship.”
The rest, of course, is history, as the 6-8, 228-pound forward/guard spent his first 11 seasons in the NBA with Michael Jordan and the Bulls and played a significant role in bringing six World Championships to Chicago.
Pippen also shined without Jordan, particularly during the 1993-94 season when Jordan played minor league baseball following his first retirement. Pippen finished third in MVP voting and led the Bulls to 55 wins.
Chicago nearly advanced to Eastern Conference finals that year, falling short to the Knicks in a seven-game series which featured the infamous touch foul call on Pippen made by referee Hue Hollins late in Game 6. New York’s Hubert Davis’ free throws helped force a final deciding game, which was played at Madison Square Garden, and the Knicks advanced.
“That was my favorite Bulls team,” said Reinsdorf. “They had to play without Michael, but came within one bad call of probably winning the next round and going to the NBA Finals. Scottie was the leader of that team. Having the season he did without Michael validated the fact that he was, in his own right, a great player.”
For Reinsdorf, there isn’t one shot or particular play that he remembers when thinking about Pippen’s career. Rather, it was a contribution that he brought night in and night out.
“His defensive play will always stand out in my mind,” he said. “He had incredibly long arms and his abilities enabled Michael to gamble on defense. If Michael’s man got past him, Scottie would be there.
“He was a perfect teammate because he was so unselfish,” Reinsdorf added. “That’s not just with respect to Michael, but all of his teammates. The ball was always moving when Scottie was on the court. It never seemed to stay in his hands long and was always headed someplace.”
Reinsdorf said he has not talked to Pippen about his plans for the future. Pippen has indicated an interest in coaching and Reinsdorf believes that could be a good role for him.
“He certainly has the knowledge to be a coach,” said Reinsdorf. “He’d also be a tremendous broadcaster, someone who could really provide a lot of in-depth analysis of the game.”