6-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen took a little break from suggesting Michael Jordan doesn’t measure up to LeBron James to pen a pep talk of sorts to the contemporary Chicago Bulls, no doubt saddened by the loss of their talismanic PG Derrick Rose. Writes Scottie in an open letter published at NBA.com, “to a man, it’s time for each of you to take a look in the mirror.”
Decide who you really are and what you represent as a basketball player. Reflect on what you have brought to the table for your team all season long and why you’re a valuable member of the Bulls. Because all of you have contributed to this team’s incredible success. Ask yourself what you can do for the team moving forward. Whether it’s through your verbal leadership or diving on the floor after a loose ball, it’s going to be all about grinding it out moving forward. If there is one piece of advice I can offer you, it’s to put every last ounce of effort you have out there to make everyone proud—Derrick, the fans, and first and foremost, yourself.
While I dealt with my share of injuries throughout my career, I was fortunate to have been healthy for the majority of our run in the 1990’s. The same can be said about Michael Jordan. But, when Michael retired for the first time to play baseball in 1993, we were faced with a similar challenge to what you’re up against—playing without your best player and leader. Granted, Michael chose to step away from the game and Derrick is sidelined because of his injury, but it comes down to the players who are still out there coming together to collectively rise up as a group and win games. We exceeded a lot of expectations in the regular season, finishing 55-27. But as we entered the postseason, a lot of people had written us off and said we didn’t have a chance without Michael. There was a lot of talk about how we wouldn’t make it out of the first round and might even get swept. But we didn’t listen to any of that. We believed in ourselves and we went out to play the type of basketball that we knew we were capable of playing. We swept Cleveland in the first round and it was a great feeling. Even though we ultimately fell short and lost to New York in a second round Game 7, we all believed we could have—and should have—done better. My point is that there was never a moment where we felt sorry for ourselves or let anyone push us into any self-doubt. We stayed positive and believed that if we stuck together and played good, hard defense, we could beat any team out there. That’s what I believe you can do as well.
It’s good to know after all these years there was never a moment where Pippen felt sorry for himself or failed to buy in to the team concept. Coming soon, Scottie’s words of wisdom to the Orlando Magic (“YOU’VE GOT THEM RIGHT WHERE YOU WANT THEM”), and encouragement for the New York Knicks (“it’s five-on-five — anything can happen”)