The NBA offseason is winding down and teams are entering their training camps. Preseason starts next week, but the official regular season does not start until Oct. 29, when Derrick Rose is scheduled to make his long-awaited return against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
As part of a new feature with FanSided, DaWindyCity will be producing a daily “Countdown To Tipoff” series featuring a certain Bulls player who wears (or wore) the same jersey number as the corresponding day of the countdown. With 33 days remaining until Oct. 29, we examine Scottie Pippen in our inaugural edition.
Selected fifth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics out of Central Arkansas in 1987, Pippen was traded to the Bulls on draft night. Pippen came off the bench as a rookie with frontcourt mate Horace Grant and honed his skills with growing superstar Michael Jordan.
In helping the Bulls advance in the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, Pippen had become a starter and emerged as one of the league’s premier young forwards. With then-career-highs in points (16.5), rebounds (6.7) and field goal shooting (48.9%), he earned his first NBA All-Star selection in 1990.
By 1991, Pippen himself had become a superstar and, with Jordan, the Bulls suddenly were a two-headed monster. This enabled them to win three consecutive titles from 1991-1993.
Jordan retired for two years after the third title to pursue a professional baseball career, but he returned to basketball in 1995-96.
By this time, Pippen was well into his prime, and the Bulls picked up right where they left off. With both players playing at a Hall-of-Fame-level, the Bulls capped their second three-peat between in 1998 with their second straight Finals win over the Jazz.
Amid months of speculation, Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets after the 1998 season, and Jordan and head coach Phil Jackson both retired, dismantling the Bulls’ dynasty.
Pippen only played one season in Houston before being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers prior to 1999-2000. He helped them reach the Western Conference Finals in 2000, where they pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to the limit but ultimately blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 7.
The Blazers never reached that kind of high again, and after 2002-03, Pippen signed with the Bulls for one final time. He looked to mentor the young core of Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Jamal Crawford and Jay Williams, but injuries limited his effectiveness.
After 17 seasons, Pippen finally retired in 2004. He was named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players along with Michael Jordan at one point in his career, and his No. 33 jersey was retired on Dec. 9, 2005.
He might’ve always stood in Jordan’s shadow throughout his career, but Pippen will always be remembered as a one-man wrecking crew himself, as Phil Jackson once described him.