Review: Scottie Pippen authors his own 'Last Dance' story

Like a lot of superstar athletes, it turns out Scottie Pippen can really hold a grudge, writes Associated Press reviewer Rob Merrill about “Unguarded,” the new memoir from the retired Chicago Bulls star

“Unguarded,” by Scottie Pippen with Michael Arkush (Atria Books)

Scottie Pippen would like you to know that Michael Jordan and the rest of his teammates on the Chicago Bulls don’t win six NBA titles in the '90s without him. The seven-time All-Star, two-time Olympic champion and recently minted member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team waited decades to write a memoir, but holds nothing back in “Unguarded.” Like a lot of superstar athletes, it turns out Pippen can really hold a grudge.

On Jordan: “I was a much better teammate than Michael ever was.” On Doug Collins his first coach in Chicago: “The best coaches are critical in a constructive manner. They don’t humiliate their players. They nurture them... Not Doug. Never Doug.” And on late Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause: “He was always looking to get rid of me.”

Those types of digs are what will make headlines from this book, but for every cutting remark Pippen also offers ample praise for the coaches and teammates who were part of his basketball journey. His overall point is that the media’s obsession with Michael Jordan — and No. 23′s willingness to accept all the accolades and endorsements — created a false narrative that ignored just how critical teamwork is to success on a basketball court.

Pippen says he wrote the book because of all the attention garnered by the Netflix documentary, “The Last Dance,” chronicling the Bulls’ final championship season in 1997-1998. “It was almost as if Michael felt the need to put me down to lift himself up,” he writes. He touches on all the topics NBA fans know so well — from the time he refused to play the final 1.8 seconds of a playoff game in 1994 after Coach Phil Jackson drew up the final shot for teammate Toni Kukoc, to Jordan taking a break from basketball that year and the next to play baseball.

Fans who followed his career closely won’t find much surprising in these pages. Pippen has always been outspoken, on the court and off, and the Bulls were not exactly an under-covered franchise in their heyday. It feels like Pippen simply wanted to put his thoughts all in one place so they’ll be a permanent part of the historical record.

In that sense, the book largely succeeds, though it would have been nice to go more behind the scenes during each championship season. Pippen’s recaps of playoff series read more like expansive box scores, lacking any new insights or stories that fans don’t already know. And in the end, that’s who will read this book — diehard Bulls fans who want to relive their team’s glory years.

Because regardless of how the story is told or who tells it — in a 10-part documentary or a 274-page memoir — one thing never changes: The Chicago Bulls twice won three championships in a row and that NBA history isn’t likely to be repeated any time soon.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in