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One of the major narratives from the world of the NBA in recent times has been the book ‘Unguarded’, written by Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen, and the way in which it paints a very unflattering portrait of Michael Jordan – arguably basketball’s greatest ever player.
Among other things, Pippen writes that the Bulls dominated the NBA in the 1990s in spite of Jordan’s legendary bullying, not because of it.
“We didn’t win six championships because he [Jordan] got on guys. We won in spite of his getting on guys. We won because we played team basketball, which hadn’t been the case my first two seasons, when Doug Collins was our coach,” wrote Pippen.
“That’s what was special about playing for the Bulls: the camaraderie we established with one another, not that we felt blessed to be on the same team with the immortal Michael Jordan.”
He also claims that he was a better teammate than Jordan: “Ask anyone who played with the two of us. I was always there with a pat on the back or an encouraging word, especially after he put someone down for one reason or another. I helped the others to believe in and stop doubting themselves.”
Jordan’s incredible drive and determination to win was the underlying theme of ‘The Last Dance’ documentary series on Netflix which captured the Bulls’ NBA Championship winning season in 1997-98 (in which Chicago claimed a second ‘three-peat’ for a total of six championships in eight seasons).
The co-author of Pippen’s book, Michael Arkush, insists that the work is not about slamming Jordan, but more a case of setting the record straight in terms of how much the Bulls’ success was down to teamwork and togetherness rather than the sheer brilliance of ‘MJ’.
“‘The Last Dance’ didn’t really bring out who the Chicago Bulls were and how they accomplished everything as a team. That’s what Pippen wanted people to take away,” Arkush said. He added, “He totally understands the greatness of Michael Jordan the player. He appreciated that from day one. He just felt he wasn’t represented the way he wanted to be and should have been.”
Ultimately, Arkush explains, ‘Unguarded’ is about the inspiring journey Pippen took to greatness: “How do you keep believing in yourself? How do you still feel that your path is there towards greatness? How does someone have that kind of confidence? He did. He worked hard.
“I think he has great appreciation for the journey he took and how difficult it was. I think he really wanted people to understand that, and to inspire other people that their dreams are possible if they believe in themselves and put in the work. That’s a big part of what he wanted to get across.”
Catch the following NBA games live on ESPN this week…
All times CAT
Saturday 4 December
02:45: NBA Regular Season, Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers – LIVE on ESPN 2
05:05: NBA Regular Season, LA Lakers v LA Clippers – LIVE on ESPN 2
Sunday 5 December
22:30: NBA Regular Season, Cleveland Cavaliers v Utah Jazz – LIVE on ESPN