5 things we learned from Episodes 1 and 2 of ‘The Last Dance’

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The Last Dance
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4. The reasons behind Pippen’s horrendous contract

General manager Jerry Krause has often been painted as the villain behind the Bulls dynasty ending, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf isn’t cast in such a great light here either. But as much as Scottie Pippen’s seven-year, $18 million bargain contract seems as horribly unfair now as it did back then, there were several, heart-wrenching factors that went into that deal being signed.

First of all, the blame doesn’t just lie with the Bulls’ front office, stingy though it may have been in refusing to renegotiate his contract while the team was winning championships. Pippen was actually advised against signing such a long deal, even by Reinsdorf himself, but opted for long-term security over a bigger short-term payday.

There were several reasons behind that decision. One is that Pippen’s family came up poor, so financial security was paramount to him. Pippen felt like he was one injury away from gambling this entire opportunity away.

Another reason is he wanted that security for his family. Pippen’s father suffered a stroke and was in a wheelchair and bedridden for the rest of his life, and his brother was paralyzed while wrestling in P.E. class in high school, so Scottie had plenty of motivation to provide for his family. That $18 million was the kind of money nobody in his family had ever seen before.

Pippen’s decision to take the longer deal over a bigger payout came back to haunt him, and the angst from Chicago’s refusal to renegotiate his contract bled into the 1997-98 campaign. Lots of people remember Scottie Pippen was underpaid, but hearing the reasons behind his decision to accept such a cheap deal in the first place was heartbreaking to relive.