Bulls

Scottie Pippen: If I could do 1.8 second game over, ‘I probably wouldn’t change it’

Scottie Pippen: If I could do 1.8 second game over, ‘I probably wouldn’t change it’

ESPN’s “The Last Dance” has thus far been the Michael Jordan show with occasional detours. In Episode 7, Scottie Pippen, for better or worse, got a segment in the spotlight.

The segment chronicled the Bulls’ 1993-94 season that succeeded Jordan’s first retirement to pursue a career in baseball (a topic that is also explored at length in the episode). That year, the Bulls won 55 regular season games, finished third in the Eastern Conference and were potentially poised for a deep playoff run — even without their savior.

Pippen and Toni Kukoc (even in his rookie year) led the way. The forwards' supreme skill and interchangability facilitated the Triangle offense to perfection. Steve Kerr lauded Pippen's gentle leadership style compared to Jordan's.

That prelude set the table for one of the hot button moments of Pippen’s career: the 1.8 second game. The scene was Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bulls trailed the fierce rival Knicks 2-0 and were in desperate need of a win to stay afloat in the series. A Patrick Ewing running hook tied the game 102-102 with 1.8 seconds remaining, capping a six-point Knicks comeback in just over a minute. The Bulls needed a quick play to survive.

Phil Jackson drew up that play for... Kukoc, who, it must be noted, did display a penchant for clutch late-game shots over the course of the game. Pippen refused to re-enter the contest out of protest, saying to Jackson nothing more than "I'm out."

“I felt like it was an insult coming from Phil. I was the most dangerous guy on our team. So why are you asking me to take the ball out?” present-day Pippen said in Episode 7.

The story ends with Kukoc stroking an off-balance, turnaround jumper to win the game off an inbound pass from Pete Myers, who Jackson subbed in for Pippen. The Bulls went on to lose the series in seven games.

This is a long-recycled tale, with Pippen ‘no commenting-ing’ the situation at the time and reportedly being berated by teammates after the contest. A win didn't heal those wounds immediately.

“We don’t know how to act because Scottie’s one of our favorite teammates, one of our favorite people in the world,” Kerr said of the postgame vibe. “He quit on us. We couldn’t believe that happened. It was devastating.”

“We had come too far with that team to go out like that,” Bill Cartwright, Pippen's teammate (and eventual assistant coach), said in “The Last Dance.” Cartwright delivered an impassioned, tearful speech to the team after the game, and Pippen apologized, yet still, many believed his legacy had been irrevocably impacted.

But in the documentary, Pippen admitted that if he could do it over, he probably wouldn’t. 

“It’s one of those incidents where I wish it never happened,” Pippen said. “But if I had a chance to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t change it.”

Pippen’s candor here is appreciated. There’s an argument to be made that this was a defining learning moment in his career, a turning point towards him evolving into a true leader. Take Jackson’s word for it.

“It was a learning moment in his life,” Jackson told the New York Times before Pippen’s Hall of Fame induction in 2010. “He came back as a leader of teams for another decade.”

Ultimately, the 1.8 second game will always be remembered as a smudge on Pippen’s legacy. But he did more than enough over the years to wash away most of its stain.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

NBA insider reveals most popular item requested by players in Disney bubble

NBA insider reveals most popular item requested by players in Disney bubble

Many NBA players are big time gamers. 

Gordon Hayward is famously obsessed with “Starcraft.” Dwight Howard loves “Call of Duty” so much he appeared in a commercial for the franchise in 2011. Zach LaVine often streams “Call of Duty: Warzone” on his Twitch account. And, seriously, just look at Meyers Leonard’s bubble setup:

 

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bulls news and analysis.

Incidentally enough, it turns out the biggest request by players inside the Disney bubble so far is gaming-related. According to NBA writer Keith Smith, who was also 20 years an employee of Disney, the most popular request by players during their first week at the campus was gaming chairs. And it makes sense. No one wants to sit in a normal hotel room chair for four hours when gaming — that includes the top athletes in the world.

“I heard the big delivery in the last two days was gaming chairs, because they don’t want the hotel chairs,” Smith told Jason Goff on the latest episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast. “They’re asking for all sorts of stuff.”

SUBSCRIBE TO THE BULLS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

Also on the show, Smith discussed what life is like inside the bubble for players and team personnel — from extracurricular activities, to food, to security and more. Smith was the first national writer to speculate about Disney as an option for the league to restart its season in an article for Yahoo! Sports back in April, and has been all over the story since.

Smith also shared why he’s optimistic the league will be able to finish despite the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases recently in Florida.

Listen to the latest Bulls Talk Podcast here or via the embedded player above.

Bulls Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

What Bulls’ Coby White must do to maximize tantalizing potential moving forward

What Bulls’ Coby White must do to maximize tantalizing potential moving forward

Every weekday for the next three weeks, NBC Sports Chicago will be breaking down the 15 full-time players on the Bulls' roster, with each week featuring a different position groups. Next up is Coby White.

Past: Zach LaVine

2019-20 Stats

13.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.7 APG | 39.4% FG, 35.4% 3P, 79.1% FT | 23.5% USG

Contract Breakdown

Age: 20

June 2019: Signed 2-year, $10,879,800 rookie-scale contract (one year, plus two team option years remaining for total value of $18,824,395)

2020-21: $5,572,680 | 2021-22: $5,837,760 (team option) | 2022-23: $7,413,955 (team option) | 2023-24: RFA (QO: $9,942,114)

Strengths

Electricity runs through Coby White. It shows in his blinding end-to-end speed, and dances off his fingertips when jumpers are falling. Distilled simply, those are White’s two greatest NBA strengths: He can really run, and he can really shoot it.

His rookie season with the Bulls was a bit uneven (read: everything before the All-Star break) as he acclimated to sporadic playing time and an off-ball role he hadn’t been asked to play in high school and college. But the stretch run validated all those who stood by his scoring prowess. In 10 games post-All-Star-break, White’s minutes bumped to 33.7 per game, and production followed. He averaged 24.7 points and 4.3 assists over that span and shot the air out of the ball, canning 40.7% of 8.6 3s per game (44.8% on 2.9 pull-up 3s per). 

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bulls news and analysis.

That torrid shooting was an outlier, but White’s work off the catch was steady all season — he finished the year a 37% marksman on 3.7 3-point attempts per game in that context; he gets his jumper off quickly — and post-All-Star, the Bulls averaged 103.41 possessions with him on the floor and 97.84 with him off, roughly the equivalent difference between the sixth- and 29th-ranked paces in the league. In general, the offense cratered in minutes he sat over that span. All of which is to say, White’s strengths are conducive to the run-and-gun style the Bulls want to play, and he’s liable to catch fire at an instant. 

That White was able to vault the rookie wall he self-admittedly hit is a testament to his work ethic and maturity, which teammates and coaches past and present are quick to laud him for. Those intangibles should only amplify his on-court talents throughout his career. (Oh, he was also one of two Bulls to appear in all 65 of the team’s games this season — for this group, no small feat.)

Areas to Improve

White will enter Year 2 with a number of questions looming over him. Can he man true point guard duties for the Bulls moving forward? Do he and LaVine comprise a tenable starting backcourt defensively? Can White once and for all kick the microwave scorer rep and be a reliable option on a nightly basis, regardless of whether the jumper is falling? What’s his role if the Bulls draft a lead guard with their upcoming lottery pick?

Unfortunately, evaluation on all those fronts was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted the NBA season with White fresh off his first career start, and LaVine sidelined with a quad injury. What we do know is that White’s dynamism and off-ball adaptability make him an exciting backcourt mate for LaVine on the offensive end if he finds consistency. Underwhelming season-long shooting numbers (39.4% FG) are a reminder that’s not a guarantee yet, but, man...

 

An average athlete with a 6-foot-5 wingspan, White will also have a hill to climb to be an above-average defender at either guard spot, and an above-average finisher around the cup. His speed and shooting ability grant him gravitational pull on the offensive end, but he’s still unproven as a facilitator, logging just a 13th percentile assist-to-usage ratio (0.67) in Year 1. To be an ideal partner for LaVine, his defending and playmaking will have to trend upwards.

White is unquestionably a bucket, and with how hard he works, it’s reasonable to expect continued progression on all those fronts — in his rookie season, his restricted area field goal percentage ticked up every month, he competed hard on the defensive end and passing lanes opened up as the game slowed down for him over time. A larger sample size will tell us more, but optimism is warranted.

Ceiling Projection

White’s speed is truly unnatural, and if his jumpshot steadies out, he has the tricks in his bag to be a 20-point scorer and game-breaking transition threat. That alone would make him a quality starter in the league for many years. While his defense will likely always be a question mark, bumping his assist average into the five-to-seven range would be the key to unlocking All-Star level potential.

But if we’re being real, it’s silly to slap a ceiling on a just-turned 20-year-old who improved so markedly in his first season. The sky’s the limit for Coby.

RELATED: Does Bulls’ Coby White have All-Star potential? One NBA insider thinks so

SUBSCRIBE TO THE BULLS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.