Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman led interesting career paths, with horse racing bookmakers. No, perhaps “eerie” is the more applicable term. The Pistons/Bulls series from yesteryear provided the era of Michael Jordan’s career that was as violent as it was baffling. And while Jordan most normally always filled the stat sheet even in losing efforts, Scottie was the one experiencing two of his most forgettable performances in elimination games in the 1989 and 1990 Eastern Conference Finals thanks in part to Detroit’s WWF approach and one ill-timed migraine.
By the time Chicago finally got over the hump in 1991, Pippen and pre-Worm Rodman were still clashing heads. Fast-forward four years later and they’re teammates on what eventually becomes Chicago’s second three-peat of the decade. For all the classic games and iconic moments the 1995-98 Bulls had, Scottie and Dennis — who at this point was at the peak of his pop culture relevance — never truly extended the olive branch to one another.
In 2011, Rodman told Graham Bensinger, business was business. There wasn’t a need to be friends as long as chemistry on the court never suffered.
Me and Scottie — we’re cool today. We’re a little older, a little wiser. We’re cool today. And me and Scottie never had a conversation. Me and Scottie and Michael never had a conversation in three years in Chicago. Only time we had a conversation was on the court, and that was it.
Thus bringing us to the third and final chapter in the story of two of the greatest defensive players in basketball history. A few days ago, I came across a random clip on YouTube. What began as a voyage through old Cash Money Records clips somehow landed on footage of a random Houston Rockets-Los Angeles Lakers game at the Great Western Forum from February 28, 1999.
The season was still less than 20 games old stemming from the lockout, which had threatened to kill the entire season only weeks earlier. The Houston Rockets era of Scottie Pippen’s life normally isn’t mentioned in the discussion of his career because it was only for a season, a shortened season at that. Also because of how close he and the Portland Trail Blazers came to beating this same Lakers team (give and take some parts) only a year later in one of the more memorable and infamous Western Conference finals in NBA history.