In an appearance on the Thuzio Live & Unfiltered podcast, Bulls legend Scottie Pippen says he was fired from his senior advisor role with the organization.
The interview with Pippen was recorded ahead of the 2020 NBA All-Star game, but was released on Spotify on April 15. The above admission from Pippen comes in the opening moments of the podcast when the host, Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune, asked Pippen what his role with the team was while introducing him.
"You all know the resume, but let's run through it a little bit because it's pretty gaudy, kind of fun to say these things," Greeinstein said. "Six-time NBA champion, seven-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA first team defense... Named one of the greatest 50 NBA players of all-time, had his No. 33 jersey retired by the Chicago Bulls.
"And you're an ambassador for the Bulls, is that right?"
"I was," Pippen responded. "I got fired this year. I didn't really want it to be in the public, but I'm no longer employed by the Bulls."
Before the 2019-20 season began, the Bulls and Pippen met to discuss his role now that he appears regularly on ESPN's "The Jump" and spends most of his time where that show is filmed. Pippen wanted to keep his gig as Bulls ambassador, but when the Bulls asked for specific commitments, the two sides couldn't agree on compensation, according to a source. The Chicago Sun-Times was the first to report on March 12 that Pippen was "no longer in his role as team ambassador."
Pippen is currently listed as a 'Special Advisor to the President & COO' in the Bulls' staff directory, which is updated to included Arturas Karnisovas as executive vice president of basketball operations.
"It's probably a good thing, right?" Pippen said to Greenstein. "I like to associate myself with winning."
Pippen then addressed comments he made on "The Jump" during All-Star weekend, when he said the "Bulls' starting lineup aren't true starters in this league."
"I did say that. I do feel like the talent level — maybe Zach LaVine, but — I feel the talent level that the Bulls have right now is below what it needs to be in the NBA," Pippen said to Greenstein. "I do feel they have some young players that are up and coming. So I’m not really knocking those players. But I think they gotta get more talent, some free agents, if they’re going to be able to try to compete night, period, night in and night out."
These comments were made at a point in the season when the Bulls were 19-36 and missing Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr., among others, due to various injuries. Those three eventually trickled back into the rotation post-All-Star break, but LaVine missed the team's last five games before the NBA season was suspended, and the Bulls' record is currently frozen at 22-43.
Greenstein then asked Pippen what he believes is behind Markkanen's regression, specifically. Markkanen averaged career-lows in points (14.7), rebounds (6.3) and field goal attempts (11.8), while shooting career-worst marks from the field (42.5%) and 3-point range (34.4%) in his third season.
"I heard somebody (in the crowd) say no coach," Pippen said, addressing a heckler in the crowd that responded to Greenstein's question. "But I always like to point the finger at the player. He didn’t work hard enough in the offseason because we’re not seeing the fruit of his labor."
Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.