Hall of Fame the final chapter for Pippen

With the news official that he’ll enter the Hall of Fame this fall, Bulls legend Scottie Pippen described it as the “final chapter” of his playing career. But he’s not ready to ride off into the sunset just yet.

Scottie Pippen - Hall of Fame 2010

Scottie Pippen

“As an individual player, it’s something I never could have dreamed,” Pippen said of entering basketball's Hall of Fame. “It’s not an accolade that you can just go out and achieve. You have to impress people by the way you play the game. I tried to play the game the right way my whole career, played to win, and tried to be the best.”

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Scottie Pippen arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday, but it wasn’t just for the Final Four. On Monday, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that the Bulls legend is among those voted in as the Class of 2010.

Pippen received the news from the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He took the call from his Ft. Lauderdale home and his wife, Larsa, was the first one with whom he shared the news. His college and high school coaches also got word from Pippen of the honor, but other than a few texts to close friends, he had to keep it quiet until the official announcement.

Set for enshrinement during festivities in Springfield, Mass. on August 13, Pippen was considered to be a lock to enter the Hall of Fame, along with Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone. Both players will also go in as members of the 1992 “Dream Team” which easily claimed gold during the Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Pippen told Bulls.com in an exclusive interview on Sunday afternoon that he was “cautiously optimistic” about being elected.

“I didn’t want to get too overconfident about getting in,” said Pippen. “I knew I had two chances—as an individual and as part of the ’92 Dream Team. I cherish going in very highly. It was a great honor to be part of that team and for us to do well enough that now it’s getting inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Scottie Pippen

“I was blessed,” said Pippen of his career. “I’m thankful that I was able to have a long, healthy career for the most part. I feel that I worked hard. I wasn’t given a scholarship out of high school and that allowed me to learn what hard work was early on.”

(Adam Fluck/Chicago Bulls)

“As an individual player, it’s something I never could have dreamed,” he added. “It’s not an accolade that you can just go out and achieve. You have to impress people by the way you play the game. I tried to play the game the right way my whole career, played to win, and tried to be the best.”

The original Dream Team compiled an 8-0 record in Barcelona and won by an average margin of 43.8 points. Eight players from the team— Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, David Robinson and John Stockton—have been enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

“It was one of those teams that you wished you could play for forever,” said Pippen. “We were strong in every area and every player was very talented. It was a great journey to share the court with some of the best players to ever play the game, to be able to practice with those guys, and spend a whole summer with them.”

At the time, Pippen and Jordan’s Bulls had only won two NBA titles. Pippen explained that he and Jordan viewed it as their moment to show the previous generation of league greats—a group that included Magic Johnson and Larry Bird—that the Bulls wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

“It was our opportunity to put ourselves beside the other great players of the game and say to them, ‘We’re here to stay.’ That was what they were going to be dealing with for the next ten or so years in the league,” said Pippen. “We were a championship team by then and that made it a lot of fun.”

On an afternoon in which he recalled Chicago’s rivalries with the Detroit Pistons—fighting for years to get past them in the postseason before finally getting over the hump en route to the franchise’s first championship in 1991—and the New York Knicks—“As a kid, you always want to play in Madison Square Garden… that’s the Mecca of basketball. To be able to play there is one thing, but to play there and have some of the battles we did against the Knicks made it so sweet,” he said—there was one team and player in particular Pippen always enjoyed going up against.

“I loved playing against the Pacers and Reggie Miller,” said Pippen. “Reggie was a great competitor and I enjoyed playing against competitors.”

Pippen listed Adrian Dantley, Mark Aguirre, Dominique Wilkins and Alex English as other players he thrived to compete against.

“All of those guys gave me something different to have to defend every night,” he said. “They were the ones that really taught me a lot about the game early in my career in terms of their aggressiveness offensively, how they were able to score and how they drew fouls. I was a young player and while some of them were at the end of their careers and didn’t have the athleticism they used to, they had the knowledge gained from years of experience and used that to their advantage.”

Pippen’s list of accolades is lengthy to say the least—six-time world champion, seven-time NBA All-Star, three-time All-NBA first team honoree and voted to the NBA All-Defensive first team from 1992-99. In 1996, he was named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players. His number hangs at the rafters in the United Center and at his alma mater, the University of Central Arkansas. So how does he look back on his career and even begin to put it into perspective?

“I was blessed,” said Pippen. “I’m thankful that I was able to have a long, healthy career for the most part. I feel that I worked hard. I wasn’t given a scholarship out of high school and that allowed me to learn what hard work was early on.”

With the news now official that he’ll enter the Hall of Fame this fall, Pippen described it as the “final chapter” of his playing career. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready to ride off into the sunset just yet.

“I will always be a part of the game,” Pippen said. “I think about my future all the time in terms of getting into coaching. Am I ready to move my family in order to take a coaching job and start that new journey? It crosses my mind often and it’s something I would like to consider.”

With just over four months go to until enshrinement, Pippen has more than adequate time to prepare his speech. While everyone knows about Jordan’s infamous speech at last fall’s ceremonies, has Pippen put any thought yet about the direction he might go?

“I haven’t,” he said on Sunday. “I’ll probably go back and look at some of the previous speeches – the good ones (laughing). I’ve always been a person who speaks from my heart and don’t necessarily prepare too far in advance. But for this situation, I’ll be prepared. I don’t want to miss anyone or anything, then I’ll have to live with it for the rest of my life.”

Though Jordan’s aforementioned speech was loaded with jabs to all of those who “motivated” him throughout his illustrious career, the first person he mentioned—and thanked—was Pippen.

“We both understand that what we did, we did it together,” said Pippen of Jordan. “It wouldn’t have happened unless we did it together. That’s how it happened and that’s how we see it. I think it is important that we both show our appreciation for each other as teammates. He surely did it for me and I will definitely return the favor. In the end, this is what we both wanted for each other.”

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