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

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The Last Dance
2 Jun 1997: Scottie Pippen of the Chicago Bulls during a press conference at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, prior to the Bulls versus Utah Jazz NBA Final Series. /

3. How close Scottie Pippen was to being traded

As our own Ian Levy put it on Slack: “I was alive for this and I’m surprised how much I didn’t remember AT ALL. It was a lot harder to follow (at the time) without Twitter. Like I kind of remember the Pippen stuff being rough, I definitely do not remember it being that hot. Or an actual trade demand.”

You’re not alone on that one, Ian.

Plenty of people remember the tension of Pippen’s relationship with the front office reaching a breaking point, but the Chicago Bulls really were *that* close to trading Jordan’s righthand man and perhaps the greatest No. 2 of all time.

You can hardly blame Pippen for resenting being the sixth-highest paid player on the team and the 122nd-highest paid player in the league despite being a top-10 player, but the lack of a new deal and the constant trade rumors swirling around him led to Scottie neglecting to take care of foot surgery until just before the new season began.

He could’ve done it right after the 1996-97 season, but decided to thumb his nose at management, waiting until the season had nearly started to undergo a procedure that would sideline him until January.

“I’m not going to f**k my summer up trying to rehab for a season,” Pippen said.

“Scottie was wrong in that scenario,” Jordan said. “What Scottie was trying to do was trying to force management to change his contract. And Jerry wasn’t gonna do that.”

The Bulls did look into trading Pippen, but ownership said no, because as long as Jordan was there, owner Jerry Reinsdorf wanted to go for ring No. 6. That didn’t stop Krause from publicly admitting they had fielded offers and gotten a few good ones.

At that point, Pippen crossed the line, berating Krause in front of the team, publicly demanding a trade and saying, “I’m never gonna play for the Bulls again.”

We all know Pippen wasn’t traded in the end, but boy did The Last Dance paint a colorful picture of how close the Bulls got to ending Jordan’s career in Chicago on a drastically different note.