An Unexpected Icon
May 6th, 2011Filed under: Collections
Like many Chicagoans of a certain age, I have vivid memories of all six of the Chicago Bulls championship wins. As a teenager and young adult, I became accustomed to the post-season presence of the franchise that dominated the league during the last decade of the twentieth century. The team operated, for most of that time, as a well-oiled machine. A critical part of the machine was small forward Scottie Pippen. Today, Pippen is a revered Chicago sports icon but there were probably few who would have imagined that outcome.
Pippen, a fifth-round draft pick from the University of Central Arkansas, arrived in Chicago in 1987. Over the next several years, Pippen along with Michael Jordan established the once-struggling franchise as a force to be reckoned with. Almost always overshadowed by Jordan’s superstardom, Pippen slowly built a reputation as a gritty player who was an essential part of the Bulls domination. After the Bulls sixth title, Pippen went west and played for Houston and Portland; he returned in 2002 to finish his career with the team he helped shape.
In 2010, Scottie Pippen was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in recognition of a 17-season career full of incredible statistics and accomplishments. In addition to 6 championship rings, Pippen played in 7 All-Star games, made 16 post-season appearances, and earned two Olympic gold medals (in championship-winning years, no less). Today, number 33 graces the rafters of the United Center, one of only four jerseys retired by the Bulls. This month, as we watch future icon Derrick Rose and the Bulls make a run for the championship, come catch a glimpse of a jersey worn during the 1998 series at the Chicago History Museum.