Scottie Pippen’s new memoir, which is titled “Unguarded,” hits shelves Nov. 9.
In the run-up to the release, Pippen, in a way, is back on the promotional trail, pushing back against how the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty years were portrayed in “The Last Dance,” ESPN’s 10-part documentary.
“ESPN sent me links to the first eight episodes (of ‘The Last Dance’) a couple of weeks in advance,” Pippen wrote in an excerpt from the memoir published Tuesday morning in GQ. “As I watched the doc at home in Southern California with my three teenage boys, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
The experience was jarring for Pippen because he found his years with the Bulls to be, as he wrote, both "magical" and the most rewarding of his career.
Pippen took most issue, according to the excerpt, with Jordan being centered as the docuseries’ protagonist — largely, Pippen says, because of Jordan’s editorial control over the project.
“The final two episodes (of ‘The Last Dance’) aired on May 17. Similar to the previous eight, they glorified Michael Jordan while not giving nearly enough praise to me and my proud teammates,” Pippen wrote. “Michael deserved a large portion of the blame (for the documentary's framing). The producers had granted him editorial control of the final product. The doc couldn’t have been released otherwise. He was the leading man and the director.”
In the first episode, Pippen cites scenes of Jordan hitting the game-winning shot of the 1984 National Championship game, being drafted by the Bulls and hitting the ground running as a rookie. In the second episode, Pippen claims his own backstory was overshadowed by Jordan.
“Even in the second episode, which focused for a while on my difficult upbringing and unlikely path to the NBA, the narrative returned to MJ and his determination to win,” Pippen wrote. “I was nothing more than a prop. His 'best teammate of all time,' he called me. He couldn’t have been more condescending if he tried.”
Pippen later claimed that Jordan earned $10 million from the documentary, while he and his teammates, who also shared their lives with the production crew, weren’t compensated at all. Teammates, Pippen wrote, without whom “Michael Jordan would never have been Michael Jordan.” Some of those teammates, he added, share his view of the documentary.
"Each episode was the same: Michael on a pedestal, his teammates secondary, smaller, the message no different from when he referred to us back then as his 'supporting cast.' From one season to the next, we received little or no credit whenever we won but the bulk of the criticism when we lost," Pippen wrote.
"Now here I was, in my mid-fifties (years old), 17 years since my final game, watching us being demeaned once again. Living through it the first time was insulting enough."
Needless to say, years of hard feelings are coming to a head for Pippen, setting the stage for a book that is likely to offer a scathing account of events.