Throwback to When Scottie Pippen TOOK OVER Chicago Bulls Leadership in Michael Jordan’s Absence

When Michael Jordan decided to retire from Basketball, Scottie Pippen stepped up to lead the Chicago Bulls and exceeded expectations.

Published on Apr 08, 2024  |  02:00 AM IST |  81.1K
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominated the '90s era of Basketball. But there was one season in which the Bulls, despite Jordan's absence, managed to put together a respectable season under the leadership of one Scottie Pippen.

In October 1993, after Jordan shockingly stepped away from Basketball to pursue professional Baseball, his absence raised many questions, including who would take Jordan's place as a capable team leader. Jordan's role in the team was paramount as he led the Bulls to their first 3-peat.   

Scottie Pippen stepped up to the challenge and was rightly the deserving choice. Having been the second lead to Jordan, the seven-time All-Star was aware of the winning mentality and what it took to get to the finish line. Led by head coach Phil Jackson, the Bulls were ready to take center stage and surprise the league, which they did. 

Pippen’s Efforts Earned the Bulls Relative Success

The Bulls began their 1993-94 campaign with an overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets but struggled to maintain their winning ways. With Pippen sidelined due to an ankle injury, the Bulls went 4-7 in their next eleven games. But after Pippen’s return, things started to look better almost instantaneously.  

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The Bulls went on a ten-game winning streak in December and a seven-game winning streak in January. Going into the All-Star break, they were 34-13, tied for the best record in the East with the Atlanta Hawks.

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Leading up to the All-Star break, Pippen averaged a decent 21.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists in 37 games. In the 1994 All-Star game, Pippen led by example, scoring a double-double of 29 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals on 60% shooting, earning himself his first (and only) All-Star MVP award. 

After finishing their regular season with a 55-27 record, the Bulls made quick work of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs by beating them 3-0 (up until 2003, the first round of playoffs was best-of-five). In the Eastern Conference SemiFinals, the Bulls met the Knicks in a closely contested series and fell 4-3. 

Pippen Had an MVP-Type Season

Despite the second-round loss, basketball fans appreciated the Bulls' efforts with Pippen at the helm. In an interview with NBC in 1994, Pippen remarked, "I think for many years people have said I'm not an All-Star; I'm riding Michael's coattails. This was an opportunity for me to really step forth and show some leadership."  


In the 1994 season, Pippen posted 22 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.9 steals per game. He shot 49.1% from the field and led the team in scoring, assists, and steals. He finished third in MVP voting behind eventual champion Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson and also earned All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team selections. 

Though many don’t remember Pippen’s sole Bulls season without MJ, he showed that he has the capability to lead a talented team while managing to maintain the reputation of the Bulls Franchise. 

 

ALSO READ: When Did Michael Jordan Retire? Exploring NBA Legend’s Second Unretirement Rumors. 

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