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Amid Scottie Pippen And Michael Jordan’s Feud, The Bulls’ Owner Addresses A Rumor Involving The Two Former Players

The one-sided feud between Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan has been well-documented by this point. Ever since Pippen shared his thoughts on his former teammate, fans and former players alike have chimed in his thoughts. Many are now also wondering just how close the two actually were doing their days as NBA players. In the midst of the hoopla though, Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf is addressing a rumor involving the pair. 

The longtime exec, alongside late general manager Jerry Krause, oversaw the Bulls teams that won six championships. While the rosters were strong, there was a bit of front office drama (much of which was chronicled in ESPN’s The Last Dance). On that note, hall of famer Tracy McGrady recently made a claim regarding the storied basketball team. McGrady alleged that in 1997, Michael Jordan threatened to retire in order to halt a trade that would’ve sent him to Chicago and Scottie Pippen to the Boston Celtics. 

Jerry Reinsdorf recently appeared as a guest on NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls Pregame Live, where he shed some light on the matter. The 86-year-old exec set the record straight, stating that Air Jordan didn’t actually have such a dramatic response to the potential trade:

I understand that there's a lot of truth to this story. But the one part that's not true is that Michael Jordan in any way communicated with the Chicago Bulls his displeasure over the trade.

Jerry Reinsdorf on The Last Dance

(Image credit: ESPN)

He later reiterated that he “never heard from Michael Jordan about it” and believes that if Jordan had said something, Jerry Krause would’ve mentioned it. Some may actually be surprised to hear that MJ didn’t feel strongly about the move. To this day, he still questions why the team owner, alongside Krause, decided to rebuild after the Bulls’ final championship season in 1998. While that particular topic has been (and will continue to be) debated, we needn’t worry about the details regarding this Tracy McGrady trade. Because the Bulls head laid that all out during his interview: 

We had won five championships at that point, and Krause came to me and said: ‘Look, I'm not sure I can guarantee — I don't know how strong I feel about winning a sixth championship. But I have a chance to trade Scottie Pippen to the Boston Celtics for two very high picks (No. 3 and 6 in the 1997 draft).’ And Krause, if we had done that deal, he was going to take Tracy McGrady and he was gonna take Ron Mercer.

The exec went on to explain that he “thought long and hard” about the deal before he eventually declined. And good thing too, because there’s a chance he may not have earned that sixth championship ring had things gone through. That season, however, may have featured a bit less drama without Scottie Pippen, though. The hall of famer would controversially opt to delay off-season surgery to avoid rehab over the summer. As a result, his was unavailable for much of the ‘97-’98 season. This was a polarizing aspect of The Last Dance, as some former players like Steve Kerr (who found the doc “embarrassing” for himself) took issue with the way Pippen was portrayed.

Nevertheless, the former player was mostly loved by his basketball comrades, with Toni Kukoč even naming him his favorite teammate. One can only hope such love will exist between Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan, leading them to start speaking again. Former teammate Charles Oakley thinks what’s going on between them was initiated by something that happened during their playing days. So as was the case with this recent rumor, maybe we’ll get some additional details that’ll give us a better understanding of the situation.

In the meantime, you can stream The Last Dance with a Netflix subscription or an ESPN+ membership.

Erik Swann
Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.