Scottie Pippen And Our Search For Contentment

While driving to an appointment yesterday, I caught the tail end of a fiery Scottie Pippen interview on sports radio where he called his former coach Phil Jackson racist and called his former teammate and arguably the best greatest basketball player, Michael Jordan, selfish. For those that might not know, Scottie Pippen played alongside Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls and won 6 NBA titles in the 1990s. Dan Patrick, a sports talk radio host, invited Pippen to discuss comments Pippen made in a GQ interview that was published last Thursday. The interviews exemplify one of the themes of this blog, that heaven can’t exist as a paradise unless something within us radically changes.

In 1994, Pippen took himself out of a playoff game with 1.8 seconds left because the final play wasn’t designed for him to take the last shot. At this point, Pippen had won 3 of his 6 championships, and Michael Jordan wasn’t playing that season. With this context, here is what Pippen said in yesterday’s interview:

“Well, I mean, if you knew that Scottie Pippen had been with the Bulls from [1987], battled through the Pistons and every other team that we had to get to those three championships, wouldn’t you give Scottie Pippen one opportunity to get a last second shot without Michael Jordan? Like, one year without Michael Jordan. Can I get one shot? Like, I’m doing all the dirty work.”

Pippen is clearly still bitter about this incident and still bitter about being known as Michael Jordan’s sidekick.

In May I wrote “How can we coexist in paradise for eternity if we care more about being right than about what’s best? Simply put, we can’t.”

It’s important to note that Tony Kukoc, the player who took the last shot in that game in 1994, made the shot, and the Bulls won that game. Pippen cared more about being the one to take the shot than about winning the game.

And from most people’s vantage point, it’s absurd that Pippen is complaining about his career. He was the second-best player on a team that won 6 championships! How many people would kill to have that success? But here he is, decades later, still bitter and discontent about his role and his legacy.

So I’ll ask, do you think he would be happy and content if he was able to take the final shot? Would he be content if he had won a championship without Michael Jordan? Would he be content if he was better than Michael Jordan and thought to be the best player of all time?

Human nature tells us the answer is clearly no.  

Yet we’ve convinced ourselves we’re different. If only I had that job, if only I was married to this person, if only I lived in this house, if only I received more affirmation and praise, then I would be content.

Deep down we know our hopes are misplaced. Our hearts long for contentment and rest, but there’s only one place, one person, we can go to find it, and he laid down his life to reconcile us back to him. Let us turn to Jesus.

“In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 12b-13

2 thoughts on “Scottie Pippen And Our Search For Contentment”

  1. So good! Reminds me of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The will of God is for us to give thanks in all circumstances! To be content and then some. Not only was Scottie Pippen not content, he was not grateful. What a gift and a joy it would have been to play with the GOAT and then to be the second best player on the team.

  2. I remember reading, years ago, about how Brian Williams of the Beach Boys essentially “gave up” after hearing the Beatles’ “Sargent Pepper” album. I know the story was more complicated, but there is no doubt that there was a rivalry between the two groups. Once Brian Williams heard something he didn’t think he could “beat”, he lost his confidence and produced very little afterwards. (He also had some mental health issues, but it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between cause and effect).

    How could someone with so much success become so dejected? One answer is horizontal thinking. When we derive our self-worth by comparing ourselves to others, rather than doing our best to fulfill God’s desires for us, we enter a game we can never win. To paraphrase Jesus, “many are going that way.” It is a trap.

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