NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen Calls Former Bulls Coach Phil Jackson a Racist

NBA Hall of Famer and 1990s Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen suggested that then–head coach Phil Jackson was "racist," specifically highlighting a last-second shot decision made in the 1994 playoffs.

Pippen and podcast host Dan Patrick discussed some of the Michael Jordan–era Bulls dramatics that have been left simmering since the release of The Last Dance ESPN documentary last summer. Their talk about Jackson and Pippen centered on a 1994 playoff game between the Bulls and the New York Knicks. Ultimately, Jackson set up a play that was designed to give newly added Croatian player Toni Kukoc the last-second, game-winning shot.

But this move, 27 years ago, prompted Pippen to refuse to return to the game altogether. Pippen, speaking with Patrick on Monday morning, doubled down on his previous accusation that Jackson's handoff to Kukoc was a "racial move," and that Jackson was "racist."

DP: ".. By saying it was a racial move then you're calling Phil Jackson a racist..."

Pippen: "I don't have a problem with that."

DP: "Do you think Phil was?"

Pippen: "Oh yeah..."

Exchange with @ScottiePippen on Phil's decision to have Kukoc take final shot against the Knicks

— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) June 28, 2021

Pippen reiterated that Jackson's decision, racist or not, was still wrong and that he "deserved" to have that opportunity.

Patrick, a longtime ESPN host, pressed Pippen on remarks he made about "the 1994 playoff game, when you refused to go back in the game and Phil set up the play for Toni Kukoc."

"Well, there's not much to be said, if you go back and look at when Scottie Pippen entered the Bulls and when Toni Kukoc entered the Bulls, and who deserved the last shot of the game.…, " Pippen said referring to himself in the third person.

"By saying it was a racial move then you're calling Phil Jackson a racist..." Patrick said to Pippen.

"I don't have a problem with that," Pippen replied, sparking some nervous laughter from each man.

"Do you think Phil was or is?" Patrick asked. "Oh yeah," Pippen responded.

Kukoc went on to make the last-second, buzzer-beating shot against the Knicks in what became one of only three 1990s Bulls seasons in which Jordan did not play for the team. During Monday's interview, Pippen discussed remarks Jackson later made about Los Angeles Lakers players which made racially based digs at specific Black professional basketball players that he'd coached.

Some critics denounced Patrick's journalistic approach to the conversation, perhaps having set Pippen up to call Jackson a "racist." Other social media commentators and sports pundits said Pippen should be heard on any potential racial accusations, particularly given the negative light in which Pippen was portrayed in The Last Dance last year.

"Weak line of questioning Dan. Any reframing to "you're calling him a racist" is always bad journalism," remarked reporter Chuck Modi.

"I mean Phil did call Lebrons homeboys a 'Posse.' I don't think Pippen is crazy here," remarked another top commenter, "Black Guru," on Monday.

Newsweek reached out to representatives for the Bulls as well as Pippen Monday afternoon for any additional remarks about Pippen's comments.

Scottie Pippen
Former NBA player Scottie Pippen speaks during a press conference as part of Heat Fest at Citibanamex Center on September 1, 2018 in Mexico City. On Monday, Podcast host Dan Patrick talked with Pippen about Phil Jackson and the Chicago Bulls, specifically an incident that occurred 27 years ago in the NBA playoffs. Carlos Tischler/Getty