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updated: 11/13/2021 8:14 AM

O’Donnell: Scottie Pippen’s new book fails to factor in the phenomenon of Michael Jordan

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  • NBA Champions, from left: Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson are joined on stage by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, second from right, during a city-wide rally in Chicago to celebrate the Chicago Bulls 6th NBA championship.

    NBA Champions, from left: Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson are joined on stage by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, second from right, during a city-wide rally in Chicago to celebrate the Chicago Bulls 6th NBA championship.
    Associated Press/June 16, 1998


FOR THE THIRD GAME of Michael Jordan's NBA career, Quintin Dailey staged a defiant, lonely protest by staying home and watching cartoons.

A few weeks later, Dailey made national headlines when he told The Daily Herald, "I did it because they already got two sets or rules -- one for Michael and one for the rest of us. I like to shine a little bit myself, you know."

Scottie Pippen -- more than 23 years after last bouncing a basketball next to the celestial No. 23 -- is now in the middle of his own one-man outcry.

The essence of it has little variance from what the ill-starred Dailey said all those Air lanes ago.

It's all there in Pippen's new book "Unguarded" (Simon and Schuster, $28).

ANYONE INTERESTED IN FURTHER texturizing the Bulls championships canon should read it with an appropriately analytical eye.

Anyone rooting for the best interests of Pippen wish he would have taken a few long, meditative timeouts before agreeing to elements of its tone.

During his prime time in Chicago, he was a brilliant basketball player who could make self-diminishing decisions too often.

At heart, he never, ever has been a bad guy.

AROUND THE EDGES -- not unlike the protagonist in Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City" -- he was a small towner from Arkansas frequently in over his head. "Unguarded" confirms that he never has completely understood the 720 degrees of the Mike-bowl he was drafted into.

Unfortunately for Pippen and all others who played in the vexing shadow of Jordan, "Being Near Mike" did not come with a study guide on how to contextualize.

Had there been one, it would have detailed the three distinct parts of His Royal & Golden Airness: the person, the player and -- most importantly -- the phenomenon.

THE PERSON AND THE PLAYER were reasonably understandable. The phenomenon has yet to be fully diced in book, documentary, ode or other avenue of independent arts and letters.

In an attempt to leapfrog Adidas, Nike bet big on marketing a team player as a fresh and massively profitable sports overlord. The NBA hopped on board.

Core influences for Phil Knight and flamboyant mastermind Rob Strasser ranged all the way from John McEnroe, Bill Cosby and O.J. Simpson back to Knute Rockne, Babe Ruth and Jack Johnson.

THE VISION THAT NIKE conceived and executed, Jordan -- the most theatrically competitive player in the history of the game -- publicly fulfilled.

Now trailing Jordan by about $1 billion in personal worth, Pippen has ample reason at age 56 to feel lost in the wake of history.

But why burn contrails with the man who afforded him one of the most comfortable superstar apprenticeships this side of Lou Gehrig (with Ruth) or Aaron Rodgers (understudying Brett Favre)?

HERE'S A FINAL TRUTH to consider:

Jordan never won a playoff series without Pippen. Scottie never won an NBA championship without Michael.

Together on a basketball court, they were majestic.

Why couldn't No. 33 have built his memoir from there and then included his own threads of tempered independent thought?

His frustration is with image. Pippen should be more aware of his own.


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Speculation will not go away that Joel Quenneville may have cause for civil action against both the Blackhawks and Jenner & Block, the law group that conducted the "independent investigation" into the franchise's sordid abuse scandal. And that Sam Ervin / Dan Inouye Q. lingers: What did Rocky Wirtz know and when did he know it? ...

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Juan Dixon -- who led Maryland to the 2002 NCAA men's basketball championship -- reportedly grossed close to $100K for Baltimore's Coppin State by bringing his Eagles in as test-crash dummies against Loyola and DePaul this week. Drew Valentine and the Ramblers waltzed, 103-45, while emerging super Demon David Jones and DePaul won, 97-72. ...

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Sight inadvertently seen: A regional prep football team practicing for a 7A IHSA quarterfinal to Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." (Not exactly the Notre Dame fight song.) ...

And Najee Harris, after robust Rotarian Steve Levy wheezed through a false "MNF" tale of how the Steelers RB overcame homelessness only to sleep on a dorm room floor at Alabama, tweeted: "Bra I ain't sleep on no dam floor in college. I slept on my bed."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at