Bulls legend Scottie Pippen will be presented by Michael Jordan during his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 13 in Springfield, Mass.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Adam Fluck | 08.09.10
Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan were side-by-side for countless memories during the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s, winning six world championships in eight seasons.
This Friday in Springfield, Mass., they will come together once again to share what will certainly be a bright spotlight.
Pippen has chosen Jordan to present him during his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I can’t think of a better person to do it,” said Pippen on Monday. “Michael is someone I shared my career with, accomplishing most of what I have accomplished thus far. He was a great teammate, teacher and admirer. I’m excited to have an opportunity to be the first person that he has presented into the Hall of Fame. I figure if anyone deserves to be on the stage with me, it’s him.”
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Jordan, who entered basketball’s Hall of Fame last September, selected former North Carolina State star David Thompson to be by his side. Having grown up in North Carolina, Jordan watched as Thompson led the Wolfpack to the NCAA national championship in 1974.
“I was in love with David Thompson,” said Jordan in his speech of his selection. “Not just for the game of basketball, but in terms of what he represented. We all go through our trials and tribulations. He did, and I was inspired by him.”
Later in Jordan’s speech, he mentioned several individuals who pushed and motivated him throughout his career. Shots were taken, in true Jordan style, but he offered sincere thanks to one person immediately after overcoming an initial rush of emotion—his longtime running mate, Pippen.
“In all the videos, you never just saw me,” said Jordan. “You saw Scottie Pippen, every championship I won.”
Perhaps a second option for Pippen, had he needed one, would have been Phil Jackson, but the eleven-time NBA champion as a coach will not attend the ceremony.
“I wish Phil could be there,” said Pippen. “He did so much for me throughout my career, but this will be a lot of fun. It will give Michael and me a chance to be on a big stage together one final time.”
Pippen said Jordan was “thrilled and overwhelmed” by the invitation.
Besides Jordan and Jackson, Pippen said he considered several other Hall of Famers to present him, including Julius Erving, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Moses Malone.
“I had other guys that I thought about, but Michael was by far the obvious choice and an easy one for me to make,” said Pippen.
As for the days to come leading up to his enshrinement both as an individual player and member of the 1992 Dream Team, Pippen said he’s still got a little ways to go before his speech is fine-tuned and ready for prime time. But he’s getting close.
“It’s going to be a work in progress until I’m actually able to deliver it,” said Pippen. “You always tend to change things. I can see myself getting up there, deviating from my original thoughts and speaking from the heart. After all these years, I just want to express all my thoughts about how grateful I am for the game and everything it has given me.”
On Tuesday, Pippen will be joined by friends, family and former teammates at Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower for a private party. Pippen will arrive in Springfield on Thursday and attend the Hall of Fame’s “Reunion Reception,” featuring the Class of 2010 and returning Hall of Famers, that evening. Following a press conference Friday morning, the highlight of the weekend will take place at 6 p.m. on NBA TV, when the 2010 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony airs live.
“I’m looking forward to it all,” said Pippen of the upcoming festivities. “To be around my teammates, who were always so supportive, will mean a lot. I can’t wait for that moment when I’m up on the stage. It’s a very exciting week for me and I’m ready to embrace it all. It signifies closing the book on my playing career, so I want to take a deep breath, cherish it, and be thankful.”
For Pippen, time has flown by since getting the call from the Hall of Fame at the end of March. He recently took a job with the Bulls as team ambassador and moved his family back to the Chicagoland area to live full-time. While one chapter of his life ends, another begins.
“It will be a thrill to be joining such an elite group and have my day of recognition,” said Pippen of entering the Hall of Fame. “From there, I’m ready to move on. I’m looking forward to being part of the Bulls organization once again and can’t wait for the season to get started.”