90s Hoops With Scottie Pippen and Charles Oakley | The Players’ Tribune

90s Hoops With Scottie Pippen and Charles Oakley | The Players’ Tribune


– What’s up? This is Michael Rapaport. Players’ Tribune, ’90s hip-hop, Oakley, Scottie Pippen, all topics are on the table. Coming to the stage first, ’cause we gotta do the New Yorker first, Charles Oakley needs no
introduction. Come to the stage. Alright, and coming to the
stage, the great Scottie Pippen. Oh my God. I didn’t see Rod Strickland. I’m already nervous enough. Alright, so listen, let’s just jump into this. I want to just articulate first, you know, it’s funny when I
saw both of you guys backstage because, like I just said,
you both conjured up such feelings for me as a
fan. And I’m sure people in this building, Scottie,
’cause we are in New York, are probably really struggling with this. Because this is a guy,
as a New York Knicks fan, this was like our guy. And you were our guy but in different way. You know, and I had a
funny story as a fan…. I remember seeing Reggie
Miller in a restaurant about a year after he retired. And he was like, “You know, you
used to talk a lot of shit.” And I was like, “Yeah, I
used to talk a lot of shit.” And I say this … the
same thing about you. But I respected the shit out of you. So as much as you gave us
trouble and I was like, I mean, I said things
that I wouldn’t even say – I’d say them to your face, but, you know, we’re in a nice place. But you used to drive me fucking nuts, Scottie, But that’s in the past. We’ll relive some of that past and, you know, celebrate some
of your careers in the ’90s. So my first question is for both of you. ‘Cause when you guys played you were both such unique players. Your style of play, big men in general, it’s like completely changed. Was there a guy, when you
were first in the league, that you were like, “I
thought I was strong.” This is a guy when you’re
20, 21, 22, you’re like, “Yo, this is a grown-ass man.” – Uh, no. No. – You never had that feeling? – No. I was a grown-ass man when I left Cleveland to go to college. When a grown man leaves
home and go to college, and only come back one time in four years, that mean you grown. But no, I got to the league,
I was about bringing them…. I had two lunch buckets, lunch pails whatever you want to call them. But no, I was just about focus. I was just glad to get
drafted, the opportunity. I wasn’t gonna let it go out the window. I wanted to show them how hungry I was for the opportunity to get
a chance to play in the NBA, and with Michael Jordan. So once that happened, you get your place, you move in, and just work, work, work. Wasn’t nothing about going
out, buying this, buying that. All I wanted to do was just get there. Because when I got there, it was three power
forwards in front of me, so I had work to do. That’s why I had all of them lunch pails. And I had to bring my lunch.
I ain’t want to leave the gym. Because I knew, three guys in front of me, I had to work my way up. But about midseason that first year, I ended up starting. – Wow. That’s crazy. Alright, so you guys, you know, we don’t need to go down the Michael Jordan rabbit hole because that will really
fucking piss me off, Scottie. But what was your first impression of this guy when he came to camp? Because I remember he
was skinny, you know. You found your game. But what
was your first take on him? And why were you beating
him up in that footage? – It’s all kind of stories. – Because you looked scared as shit! – When he got drafted to Chicago, Scottie came and … he might be skinny, but he liked to talk.
And he don’t talk a lot to just people, people. But he talk and tell you
… he told me one day, “You know what? I’m going
to be better than Mike.” I’ll never forget that. – He said that? – Scottie said that. I
said it in another story. He said that. And he said, “Hey.” He used to say stuff to
Michael sometime at practice, but he watched what he said. He said the stuff sometimes, but Scottie- – I didn’t want to get traded. – Hey, I got traded because I was talking. Scottie will tell you. I’m a team guy. If you my teammate and you do something, and I think it’s right, and I
see that it’s the right thing, I got your back 1,000. Not 100, 1,000. Ask anybody I played with. I might get traded, but I’m gonna try to do the right thing. But some guys don’t have a chance to speak up for themselves. Rod will tell you. I don’t … management might get at me. But know what I tell management? “You know what? I’m
here early, I’m working, I understand this.” A lot of guys get pushed under the rug, can’t stand on their own, I wasn’t for that when I played. I had the guys’ back. – Is there a first moment that you could remember where you were like on the court, not in training camp, but you were on the
court playing in the NBA and you were like, “Oh shit, there’s so-and-so,”
or, “I’m in this arena.” Do you remember like that moment? – No. I never had those moments, and here’s why. You know, when I came into the game I played alongside Charles Oakley, but, obviously, I played
with Michael Jordan. So, there was no player in the game bigger than Michael Jordan. He was probably the only
one that probably put me in awe if I was ever in awe. But I was never in awe to be honest. That’s the answer to that question. You know, it was a lot of
players that I respected. And when I saw him on the court it was different. It was
more than I anticipated. But some of ’em was a little
less than I anticipated. So it all worked out. But, you know, basketball
was different then because there were no relationships. I didn’t have a chance to
know who Rod Strickland was. I didn’t have a chance to even
know who Charles Oakley was. But we became teammates,
and meeting Rod Strickland, and competing against
him year in and year out, those types of relationships, you know, evolve over time. Obviously, Rod went to school in Chicago, so it made it a little easier
for me to approach him. But that’s kind of my story about that. – You know, he’s young, too. You guys are close in age. – He was my rook. – O.K., so how was that being his rook? And this is at a time there was no participation trophies, and now that the whole
rook thing is on Instagram, you know it’s all cute. What was like the toughest sort of chore? – You know, Oak was tough,
really, my first year. But he was like a big brother to me. He showed me the ropes not
only on the basketball court but off the basketball court. And that’s really where we bonded, mostly. You know, he was definitely
sending me down the rookie path. But I was learning a
lot from Oak, as I say, not only on the court but
off the court, as well. On the court, he was a great
teammate, a great communicator, a guy that, you know, controlled the lane, played bigger than what he really was, because, as we know, he
wasn’t a great leaper. But, you know, he was
always one of the…. Seriously. But he was
one of the top rebounders in the game so, you know, go figure that. So he was a guy that,
you know, as he said, he was built on hard work, you know. He was one of the guys
that kind of helped us through the journey of being able to beat the Detroit Pistons. So, you know, he taught us
how to be tough mentally, and taught us how to get in the gym and get tough physically, as well. So he helped us along the
way to finally be able to get over that hump. And
I wish he would have been with us throughout that whole journey. – That’s awesome. You know, we’re closing
in on time, so I’m gonna jump forward a little bit. There’s two iconic moments
that I wanted to ask you about, specifically in the Knicks-Bulls series. There was a Starks dunk
over Michael Jordan. On his fucking head. This, he had it. This, Scottie. Like that. – You got a picture of it in here? – Yeah. The picture’s in our heart.
We don’t need the pictures. What do you remember about that play, Oak? – I remember passing to the wing and, you know, coming up, he
just … I don’t know. I guess John was feeling that
night. When he dunked it, I was the first one to
pat him on his butt. I mean them series was great. You know, my thing is,
thinking back in the ’90s, playing against Chicago was … you know, when we got Pat Riley,
we thought there was…. In sports, you want this next guy you get, you know, we can play. But can he the last two
minutes of the game? Some type of preparation you’re wanting, you know, like give us
something we didn’t have. And I think that Phil
Jackson played possum with Pat Riley every
time he played the Bulls. – What do you mean by that? – He, you know, he made
Pat Riley seem like he knew what he was doing. Seem like it. In every game … situation
was, if you watched the tape, watched the films of the games
we played against the Bulls, our second half adjustment
– we’d never adjust. If was playing the Bulls,
if I was the coach, I would never sub until they sub. We tried to please guys so
they’ll keep the guys up there that we know gonna go
to war for 48 minutes that we had to play. So it ain’t about giving guys the minutes. It’s who you playing against. Sometimes, you can get
your minutes on teams that don’t have no good chemistry, don’t have a great player
like Michael Jordan. When you play against the Bulls,
it’s hard to make mistakes. I used to tell everybody, “When we playing the
Bulls, we come in the game already four points down.” Most of the time, that’s
what the game came down to – the last two or three possessions – and we wasn’t sound enough. And I blame Pat Riley a lot for that. – Jesus, you’re crushing me right now. – I’m being real. – I love it. – Don’t you all think we were just better the last five minutes? – This is fan question. This is actually gonna be,
this is from somebody in here. This was actually going to be my follow-up to the Starks dunk. Because I found it rude, Scottie. Real rude. Like and I was like, I think you guys were on the Dream Team together, you must have played golf. I know Michael Jordan had some sort of sick, sick affinity fucking with Pat Ewing. It was like a sick thing, like it was like … it was cruel. It was rude. He really got off on it. You dunked on him one time
– and we know the dunk – and you did all this, and it was like this and I mean – – How about Oakley came
and pushed me away? – You’re lucky it wasn’t just a push! – Well Patrick should’ve got him, hit him in the head or something. I was just, you know, I was like, that’s what I’m talking about, you know. I blame Patrick too, so…. That’s another thing with that series: My thing is, we had to play
so perfect to beat them. And sometimes Patrick
played right to they hands. They knew he couldn’t pass the ball. They knew once he put it down on the floor he wasn’t gonna pass it. So, soon he started dribbling it, that’s when they double-teamed. They was just like safe. Just pass the ball out the
double-team three or four times – and it woulda been a
big, different weak side. We didn’t do that. I know they were like watching me and like, we know what
he gonna do every time. – You still didn’t answer
the question, Scottie. – What’s your question? – What did he do to you
like that he deserved that kind of taunting and I … – Hey, Mike, you watch my whole career, that was nothing different than the way I played my whole career. – Alright. – He just got in the way. – Alright. Fine. Aside from you guys, and aside from Mike – we could talk about this
guy the whole time – you guys both had great
relationships in the league, played with so many different players throughout your career. Pip, Oak – quick: Who was the most fun teammates
that you can remember that you had, you know,
off-the-court, on-the-court relationship with to this day? – Oh Wow. – Just rattle a few off. – In Chicago, probably like Scottie said, we guys the rookie
year, we did everything. Went to dinner, played tonk
– we just had fun together. We bonded and I think when I got traded, I came to New York, it was different then. Me and Mason got real tight. Rod was on the team early. Mason, different guys, but basically every team I went to I just tried to make sure
my teammate was okay, make sure that, you know,
we knew what we was doing. We hung out sometimes, we
didn’t hang out too much. Be in before 12 on a game night. After that, you know, you’re okay with me. – Scottie? – What was your question? Who was my – – Players, teammates that you
were like, Yo, that’s my guy. – Well, I mean there’s
no one that can top Oak. My freshman year, you know,
him being from Cleveland, every time we hit the road
– especially back then we played against the Cavs six times – we’re at his mom’s house
three of those times, we’re gambling, we’re eating – all night. And, yeah, life was fun with Oak. ‘Cause like I said, my first few years, three years in the league, he was like a brother, father figure, whatever
you want to call it, best friends. And, you know,
we’re still like that today. – Aside from Mike – ’cause
he can come into this ’cause I heard he was good at this – biggest and best trash talker. I don’t think anybody talked shit to you. But, Scottie, like who were the ones – whether they were good at it or not – like who were the ones just
gibber-gabber the whole time? – I mean, Gary Payton talked a lot. But, in my era, probably Larry Bird. He would talk trash
and do something tricky or … you know, him, Adrian
Dantley, those kind of guys were like big trash talkers. I can’t even say AD was
as much of a trash talker as he was a dirty player. – Dirty, like how? Like dirty like what? – I guess he was teaching
me, but he would do – – Like what did he teach you? – He would do the back down, and then all of a sudden
he’ll hook your arm – and he was one of the strongest guys. I mean, he was strong as Oak. And he would just run to the basket, holding your arm. And he had the – [Together] ugliest shot. – You know, he’d like throw it up, and he’d get a foul every time. – And he was short, right? – Short, about six-four, but
I mean physically strong. Hey man, that dude can
score the basketball. Y’all go check the record books. – Yeah, he played with Detroit. – They probably got about
10,000 of ’em on me. – He was tough? – Oh, he was tough. – He can score on us,
six-five, six-four guys. – I’ll throw different –
just names at you guys. First, Moses Malone. – Great guy. – Best man, classiest guy around. – I put him in the top five centers. Some people gonna say, you crazy. But what he did, night in and night out, and how he did it. I watched a tape about two months ago, when he played the Lakers, when they beat them four straight. He gave Kareem 28 and 25. Moses Malone, he was just a hard worker, six-ten, undersized center,
but never got his due. Rest in peace Moses Malone. – Dominique Wilkins. – Probably one of the
most underrated guys. Probably one of my toughest opponents. – Why? What made him tough? – Well, I mean, because, one, he was competing against Michael Jordan and I had to guard him. So, that’s what made him tough, ’cause every time Michael
scored, he was coming. But Dominique was like, he was
one of the ultimate scorers before Michael Jordan. You know, Michael obviously passed him up with his charisma and his style, but Dominique was coming. Dominique would try to give
you like 40, 50 points a night. Like you look at this era, Dominique was living that era back then. When he started a game, he
was trying to give you 50. – He was aware of it. He was ready to go. – Yeah, yeah. It was all
about scoring for Dominique. – Karl Malone. – Ah… aw, man. Karl Malone was good,
but … one thing is, he was good but he cried a little too much for a man that big. You can’t let me see you cry. Cry for Karl. You All-Star, you Dream Team, you whatever, whatever … Second-leading scorer ever in the NBA…. But he had the mid-range jumper, and he played with a great
point guard, John Stockton. Couldn’t make nobody better, though. – Isiah Thomas. The original –
Detroit Pistons Isiah Thomas. You know, listen, listen –
you know, one of the things about having the good fortune
of being around basketball, it seems like Isiah,
when his name comes up – in terms of people that played with him, played against him – there’s always … it’s a reaction. – So, it ain’t just me? – And it ain’t just Oak. Oak just did this. – He’s one of them guys he’s like a fly. I mean, you trying to kill him ’cause he land on your
food, keep messing with you. But, my thing is, he’s
a great point guard – I think he should’ve been on
the Dream Team, all that – but he just, there’s something about him. I can’t trust him. – Pippen, I’ll let you elaborate. You were on that Dream Team. – I grew up that if I don’t
have nothing good to say, don’t say nothing. I just, this is a segue. – I’m just saying, nothing good is gonna come out of you asking me that. – Yes, O.K., good. – And I think you are videoing this, so you might want to keep this… – But as a player, as an opponent, he’s one of like, you know… – I don’t respect him, so I don’t have anything
to say about the guy. – Shit, you just said they
were videotaping this, Scottie. You could’ve said, “Yeah, he was good.” Alright, listen, I first, I’ll say on behalf of the fans, – Don’t nobody know who he is anyway. – I got you. – What am I gonna say, he’s a snake? Just saying. – Just saying. – I was moving on. – Oh, we can stay here. – Keep going, you wanna keep going? – Yeah, we can stay here. – Well, listen, they’re telling me – I got it, I got it, yeah. No, I was trying to say this, I can say this ’cause everybody that came here is a true fan. This was a pleasure and an
honor to have the opportunity to talk to you guys. [Applause.] You know, you guys are both icons and one-of-one players. So, I have to wrap it up…
– He’s the man. – And thank you so much. What are you gonna say, Scottie? – Man, you New York Knick fans
ain’t never cheered for me. – So, thank you, guys.