Maverick had Goose. Han Solo had Chewbacca. Bread has butter.
Dynamic duos feed off each other to fuel their greatness. History remembers the frontman and leader of every group, but it’s the sidekicks who take the pressure off at the expense of their own legacy. Perhaps no confidant is more under-appreciated for his contributions than seven-time All-Star Scottie Pippen.
As the “Robin” to Michael Jordan’s “Batman,” Pippen (along with Dennis Rodman) helped the Chicago Bulls win six NBA Championships, including two three-peats, while being one of the league’s best all-around players.
Even though Pippen’s time with the Bulls ended unceremoniously following contract disputes with management, it will surprise most people to learn that Pippen actually made far more money solely in NBA contracts than “His Airness” ever did.
Pippen was the youngest of Ethel and Preson Pippen’s 12 children growing up in the small town of Hamburg, Arkansas. His prep career at Hamburg High School produced the ball-handling skills of a point guard mixed with the work ethic of a Division I player. Pippen, however, didn’t receive any offers to play college basketball, and he ended up being a walk-on and equipment manager at the University of Central Arkansas.
As Pippen detailed in ESPN’s 10-part documentary The Last Dance, he eventually received a scholarship from UCA, hit a growth spurt, and ended up being 6-foot-7 by the time his senior season came around. The former high school guard became a dominant NAIA-level star, earning two Consensus All-American honors before entering the 1987 NBA Draft.
Originally selected No. 5 overall by the Seattle Supersonics, Bulls general manager Jerry Krause worked a trade to land Pippen and pair him with the NBA’s rising superstar, Michael Jordan. He made his NBA debut against the Philadelphia 76ers in 1987 and made the playoffs at the end of that season.
NBA Career and Contracts
Pippen’s rookie contract paid him $2.83 million over his first four seasons. It was part of a six-year contract that would have paid him $5 million over the life of the deal. Shortly after the Bulls defeated the Los Angeles Lakers for the franchise’s first NBA Championship in 1991, Chicago offered Pippen a seven-year, $18 million contract extension that voided the two option years on his rookie deal. Seeking security and care for his family back home, Pippen gladly accepted.
As the Bulls’ dynasty blossomed throughout the 1990s and league revenue skyrocketed, Pippen’s deal is remembered today as one of the worst in NBA history.
Over the life of that contract, Pippen won an Olympic gold medal with The Dream Team, went to six-straight NBA All-Star games, won the NBA All-Star Game MVP award in 1994, was named All-NBA First Team three times, earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors every season and won five more NBA titles.
He never made more than $3.4 million in a season during that stretch, according to Spotrac. Still, he was regarded as one of the best small forwards in the game.
Ultimately, Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets for Roy Rogers and a second-round pick prior to the 1998-99 season. Entering his mid-30s, the sign-and-trade deal earned Pippen a five-year, $67.2 million contract. Failing to find chemistry during a lockout-shortened season playing alongside Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon, Pippen was again traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in return for six players after one year.
Pippen made millions in NBA salary in his four seasons with Portland despite his diminishing impact. His defensive prowess and passing capabilities still made him a threat, but the veteran’s scoring numbers fell to just over 11 points per game during his tenure.
Pippen returned to Chicago for the final two years of his career on a $10 million contract to help tutor and guide an inexperienced roster. Injuries bogged him down, and he retired from professional basketball in October 2004. Pippen’s statue stands outside the United Center today.
Across 17 NBA seasons, Pippen walked away with just shy of $110 million solely from contracts as a professional basketball player. He “retired” but made a brief return to basketball in 2008 at 42, when he played for the Torpan Pojat in Finland and the Sundsvall Dragons in Sweden.
By comparison, Jordan’s team-friendly contracts in the late ’80s and early ’90s exploded into a two-year run from 1996-98 when he became the first NBA player to make over $30 million in each season. All told, however, “His Airness” only took home about $90 million in career earnings from his play on the court. Don’t worry, the billionaire is doing just fine these days.
Right out of college, Pippen was wearing Avia sneakers, an upstart brand who signed other NBA legends like John Stockton and Clyde Drexler. After the Bulls’ dynasty ascended, however, Pippen joined Nike and released several signature shoes, including the Pippen 1 in 1997.
Pippen also had endorsement deals with Frito-Lay, Visa, and Ameritech Cellular TV, as well as other major companies like McDonald’s, Right Guard and Coca-Cola. Along with his commercials, Pippen’s also had cameos in several movies and television shows over the years.
Pippen was married twice, first to Karen McCollum in 1988, then to Larsa Younan in 1997. Pippen’s only child with McCollum is Antron Pippen, then he had four more with Younan ? Scotty Pippen Jr., Preston Pippen, Justin Pippen, and Sophia Pippen. He and Larsa Pippen, as she still goes by today, divorced in 2018.
Robert Lunn, who served as Pippen’s longtime financial advisor and investor for the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, was sentenced to three years in prison for multiple fraud counts back in 2016. He reportedly forged Pippen’s signature on a loan that was valued at $1.4 million to pay off his own debts.
Pippen was dubbed “No Tippin’ Pippen” by a Florida restaurant for allegedly giving horrible tips after meals. Charley Barkley once said, “There’s nobody cheaper than Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan.”
After basketball, Pippen returned to the Bulls as a team ambassador and was named senior advisor to Michael Reinsdorf, the Bulls’ president and COO. Pippen said he was fired by the basketball team in April 2020 after failing to agree on a new compensation package.
Pippen’s days of grabbing rebounds, snatching steals and dishing assists are over but he’s still making noise with the release of his memoir “Unguarded.” He reportedly owns a $10 million mansion in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Scottie Pippen Net Worth
Scottie Pippen’s net worth is estimated between $20 and $50 million in 2021, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
He may not be a billionaire like his former teammate in Chicago, but Pippen’s legacy on the floor as one of the greatest players in NBA history is without dispute.
This post was originally published on April 20, 2020 but has been updated.