Jordan’s most acclaimed teammate said the NBA legend wasn’t a pleasant co-worker: “He was a horrible player.”
Michael Jordan was a “horrible player” who was “horrible to play with,” Scottie Pippen, the top wingman for His Airness on the Chicago Bulls, said recently.
Pippen — a consensus top NBA player of all time in his own right — has long been a critic of Jordan, but he threw more fuel on the fire in an interview on last week’s episode of the “Gimme the Hot Sauce” podcast with former teammate Stacey King.
“Our game is a team game, and one player can’t do it,” Pippen said.
“I’ve seen Michael Jordan play before I came to play with the Bulls. You guys have seen him play. He was a horrible player. He was horrible to play with. It was all 1-on-1, shooting bad shots. And all of a sudden, we become a team and we start winning. Everybody forgot who he was.”
While Jordan is known for his fierce competitive nature, Pippen said the young Jordan’s passion was for scoring, not winning.
“He was a player that, really, winning wasn’t at the top of his category,” Pippen said. “It was scoring. He was going after scoring titles.”
A representative for Jordan couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Tuesday. Fans seemed to take Jordan’s side.
Pippen credited Bulls coach Phil Jackson with bringing the team together to win all those titles.
But in the interview, he also threw shade on the Jackson, often portrayed as a “Zen master,” for not harnessing his own ego.
“I just don’t know if he was ever in my corner,” Pippen said.
“He just really turned sour to me his last couple of years of coaching, not that that took anything away from me as a player or how I played the game. He became selfish. It really was the breakup of our [team], to be honest. One selfish guy on the team, another selfish guy coaching the team. It was time for a divorce.”
Asked whether he could ever repair his relationships with Jordan and Jackson, Pippen bluntly said no.
“Stacey, you’ve been around Michael. You’ve been around Phil. Their egos are huge, and I don’t bow down to people like that,” Pippen said.
The debate about the NBA’s all-time greatest player tends to break down to Jordan vs. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
Pippen declined to take sides but didn’t mind offering his take on the five greatest players he has seen: Jordan, James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Karl Malone.
But he again returned to his team-first mantra, saying: “There is not a greatest player.”
“LeBron James is probably one of the greatest winners that ever played the game. He wins,” Pippen said. “Now does that make him the greatest player to ever play the game? No.
“Michael Jordan probably is one of the greatest individual scorers that we’ve ever seen, but probably not. It’s probably Kareem. It’s hard for me to say who’s the greatest player to ever play in the game.”