On this day in 1987, Scottie Pippen made his NBA debut for the Chicago Bulls. He would play with the team for the next 11 seasons, winning six championships. Pippen was known as a versatile player who could do it all – he was an excellent scorer and rebounder and one of the best defenders of all time. He is considered one of the greatest players the franchise has ever had and is often listed alongside “His Airness” Michael Jordan as one of the greatest duos in the history of the NBA.
The Bulls have had their eye on the Arkansas native since he was a junior in college. They engineered a trade on draft day to acquire the 6-foot-7 forward, who the Seattle Supersonics picked fifth overall, in exchange for big man Olden Polynice who the Bulls selected with the eighth pick.
Pippen didn’t make much of an impact in his first season, as he averaged only 7.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in almost 21 minutes per game while coming off the bench. However, he already showed glimpses of his defensive prowess, averaging 1.2 steals during his limited time on the court.
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Pippen made a good account of himself in his first NBA game, tallying 10 points, one rebound, four assists, and two steals in the Bulls’ 104-94 win over Charles Barkley and the Philadelphia 76ers.
The beginning of a dynasty
Pippen’s role increased in his second season as he started 56 games and averaged 14.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. There was no turning back from there as he became one of the most important pieces of the Bulls’ dynasty that would win six championships in eight years.
Pippen formed a formidable duo with Jordan and was often referred to as his “sidekick.” However, Pippen was no slouch and was more capable of carrying the team when Jordan was not on the court. Pippen’s contributions went beyond just scoring and defense, as he was also one of his generation’s best playmakers and rebounders.
Pippen was named to the All-Star team seven times in his career, the All-NBA Team seven times, and the All-Defensive Team a whopping 10 times. He was also a part of the 1992 USA “Dream Team” that won the Olympic gold medal.
The Bulls retired Pippen’s “33” jersey in 2005, making him only the fourth player in franchise history to receive that honor. Pippen was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
There’s no doubt that Scottie Pippen is one of the greatest players to ever play for the Chicago Bulls, and his impact on the game is still felt today. He changed how people viewed the small forward position and paved the way for future stars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Pippen will always be remembered as one of the best to do it on both ends of the floor.