When it comes to sporting dynasties, I'm sorry, but it doesn't get much better than the Chicago Bulls. The Last Dance on ESPN is rekindling an already recognizable fervor for the team. The story focuses predominantly on the last year of the Bulls' second three-peat and is full of fascinating details about not only Michael Jordan, but the organization as a whole. Like the contract disputes with Scottie Pippen, which has people wondering: just how much did he make in his ball-playing career?
Apparently, Scottie Pippen's career earnings were more than Michael Jordan's.
The last year the Bulls won a championship was in the 97-98 season, and if you can believe it, the team's main roster was in danger of being broken up. The Last Dance offers some shocking insights into how much drama was occurring behind the scenes, and a lot of it centered around General Manager Jerry Krause's willingness to trade Scottie Pippen in order to bring some fresh talent into the franchise.
Jerry was also willing to give up Phil Jackson, the mastermind who, at the time, led the Bulls to an amazing five championships, and is respected as one of the all-time greatest coaches in the sport's history (he also lead the Lakers to 5 championships too after his tenure with the Bulls, don't forget).
The Last Dance is formatted in a non-linear way: it jumps back and forth between the past of the Bulls franchise and the 97-98 season.
This juxtaposition clearly establishes a distinction between the early days of Chicago building itself into a legitimate basketball team that got the city excited about attending games (they went from being at 1/3 capacity to selling out the entire stadium once Jordan came into the picture as a rookie), to a dynasty's future and attempt at capturing a sixth title in jeopardy.
One of the most telling examples of how respected Michael was is when he candidly spoke about the management situation during a press conference where the future of the Bulls was called into question. MJ blatantly said that management should have "respect" for the players who helped turn the franchise "into a profitable organization," and that because they continually won, they should be given the opportunity to continue winning as a team.
One of the main focuses of The Last Dance so far has been Scottie Pippen's awful contract, but little time was spent on the details— Samuel H. Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) April 20, 2020
So I dove into 1991 cap minutia to figure it out. This is how the Bulls managed to rob Scottie Pippen blind for seven yearshttps://t.co/Gorkct1c1u
Scottie Pippen's contract with the Bulls:
The baller's $18 million agreement with Chicago was below market value and that, coupled with Jerry's attitude toward Scottie, resulted in the greatest second man the league's ever seen to personally seek a trade from the Bulls to another team. He ultimately stayed on to play another season with the Bulls and made a good amount of money doing it. Michael Jordan went on to exit the game of basketball to enjoy the ridiculous sales from his Jordan clothing line and tons of other business ventures.
What's interesting about Scottie Pippen's career earnings in the NBA is that they're actually greater than Michael Jordan's. Scottie's ex-wife, Larsa, tweeted out that he made $109.19 million, with the lion's share of that money coming after his time with the Bulls. He then joined the Houston Rockets, nabbing a meaty five-year, $67.2 million contract, but left after only one year due to heated exchanges with Charles Barkley.
Scottie was eventually traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, where he played for an additional four years before coming back to Chi-town, where he only played 23 games but managed to secure himself an extra $10 million. To put into perspective just how much money Scottie was earning at the end of his career: he was raking in more per year than he was during his entire prime career on the Bulls.
The big question many folks had after watching Episode 2 of The Last Dance, was: Why did Scottie sign that first deal?
Pippen grew up in Arkansas from a poor family and his decision to take a "secure" agreement trumped the allure of more enticing offers. Those around Scottie cautioned him against signing the contract, but he ultimately did and it became a source of tension between Scottie and the higher-ups.
'The Last Dance' schedule:
The 10-episode series is playing on ESPN — here's the entire schedule from the network's website below:
- Sunday, April 19, 9 p.m. ET -- Episodes 1 and 2.
- Sunday, April 26, 9 p.m. ET -- Episodes 3 and 4.
- Sunday, May 3, 9 p.m. ET -- Episodes 5 and 6.
- Sunday, May 10, 9 p.m. ET -- Episodes 7 and 8.
- Sunday, May 17, 9 p.m. ET -- Episodes 9 and 10.