Kukoc Reflects on Pippen's Evolution Post-Bulls, Jordan's Lingering Fondness

Documentary Sparks Rift Between NBA Icons Jordan and Pippen.

by Nouman Rasool
Kukoc Reflects on Pippen's Evolution Post-Bulls, Jordan's Lingering Fondness
© Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, renowned for their dynamic synergy, spearheaded the Chicago Bulls to an illustrious era, capturing six NBA championships throughout the 1990s with two remarkable three-peats. The duo, while not the closest of friends, maintained a mutual respect and camaraderie pivotal to their success on the basketball court.

Yet, the passage of time seems to have cooled the warmth once shared between these two NBA legends. Toni Kukoc, a former teammate, recently expressed his disheartenment regarding the cooling relations between Jordan and Pippen.

In an interview with Sport Klub, Kukoc revealed, “I haven’t seen Scottie for a while. It’s sad to see the current state of his relationship with Michael; despite everything, Michael still holds a deep respect and affection for Scottie, often saying he couldn’t have achieved his feats without him”.

Strained Bonds Surface

The strain in their relationship became public following the release of ESPN's documentary 'The Last Dance,' which depicted their journey to fame. Pippen voiced his discontent with the portrayal, feeling overshadowed and underappreciated.

This led to the release of his memoir 'Unguarded,' where he openly criticized Jordan, intensifying the rift. Years after the documentaries, Pippen continues to publicly challenge Jordan, launching his 'No Bull' tour earlier this year as a platform to express his ongoing grievances.

Despite Pippen’s provocations, Jordan has remained relatively restrained, seldom addressing Pippen’s allegations directly. Instead, he reminisces about Pippen as an invaluable teammate, essential to his success.

Adding to the controversy, in 2021, Pippen accused former Bulls coach Phil Jackson of racism on 'The Dan Patrick Show,' a charge stemming from a 1994 game decision to favor Kukoc for the final shot over Pippen. Kukoc defends Jackson, stressing that such a claim doesn't align with the Scottie he knew—one who valued team play over individual accolades.

Kukoc, often referred to as 'The Croatian Sensation,' refrains from speculating on Pippen’s current disposition but continues to praise his former teammate's basketball intelligence and camaraderie. According to Kukoc, Pippen remains one of the best teammates he's ever had, underscoring a complex legacy that intertwines professional triumph with personal turmoil.