Bulls to honor Pippen with statue inside United Center
"Words really can’t express my feelings," Pippen told Bulls.com. "It’s an unbelievable honor and truly amazing. It’s something you dream of as a kid growing up, but you can never foresee those childhood fantasies becoming reality."
The Chicago Bulls have plans to unveil a bronze statue of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen that will be displayed permanently in the United Center at some point towards the end of the 2010-11 season.
“Not only is Scottie Pippen one of the greatest players to ever wear a Bulls uniform, but he’s among the best players in history of the league to play the game,” said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “He had a tremendous impact in bringing six world championships to Chicago and there is no better way to pay tribute to him than with a permanent statue that honors his inspirational career.”
The statue will be crafted by Omri and Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of Highland Park, Ill., who also sculpted the famous Michael Jordan statue which was unveiled in January 1994 in conjunction with Jordan’s No. 23 jersey retirement.
“Words really can’t express my feelings,” Pippen told Bulls.com. “It’s an unbelievable honor and truly amazing. It’s something you dream of as a kid growing up, but you can never foresee those childhood fantasies becoming reality. You see statues of individuals who have done great things and made their mark on history, but as a basketball player, you never really think about arriving at this point. It’s an amazing honor for the Chicago Bulls to do this for me.”
Pippen was informed of the news the same week that he was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In his first year of eligibility, Pippen was inducted on Aug. 13 as an individual player and as a member of the 1992 Dream Team which won the gold medal in the Barcelona Summer Olympics.
Having spent several years away from the game, Pippen said he now has a different, clearer perspective on his career, one that makes honors like the statue all the more meaningful.
“I’m more excited now when I look back at what we were able to accomplish,” Pippen acknowledged. “My playing years went by so fast, but I’m happy I was able to make my mark on the game. It’s hard to take a deep breath and look back on it all. At the same time, you are always trying to get to the next level and accomplish something new. I’m at a point now where I can really appreciate what I did throughout my career. To enjoy those things and reap some of the benefits now is very special to experience.”
While the Bulls retired Pippen’s No. 33 on Dec. 9, 2005, his alma mater, the University of Central Arkansas, didn’t officially lift his jersey to the rafters until Jan. 20 of this year. Between that, the Hall of Fame and his return to the Bulls as team ambassador, it’s been a nostalgic year for Pippen.
“When you are playing, you don’t think about those things,” said Pippen. “I never discredited the way I played the game. I always felt like my teammates appreciated the way I approached the game. I worked hard and tried to make it fun for everybody. It wasn’t about me as an individual, though; I just wanted to help make our teams extraordinary when we were out on the court.”
In July, the Bulls named Pippen as an ambassador for the organization. In this capacity, he will attend a majority of Bulls home games and spend time with fans and sponsors. Additionally, Pippen will also participate in a variety of team related events throughout the year, write a monthly column on Bulls.com and make appearances on BullsTV via Bulls.com.
“Being back in Chicago is a great feeling,” said Pippen. “To be among the fans who made my career so special is a fitting next step for me. I’m ready to be a regular at the United Center again as I get back into basketball. I can’t wait to bring my kids around the game. I look forward to working with the younger generation of players, too. Hopefully getting on the court and sharing my knowledge and experience with them will help.”