Sunday , Oct , 10 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Dear Mr. Pippen…
RE: Retirement

I heard you were retiring today while I was having breakfast. I instantly put down my cereal and began reflecting on your NBA career. The first thing that came to my mind was that your retirement truly signaled the end of a basketball era, the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s.

Dear Mr. Pippen...<br />RE: Retirement”/><P>Nineteen ninety-one was the year I began following the NBA. This was also the year your Bulls won their first championship. As a novice fan, I was instantly attracted to your winning ways. This may also be due to the fact that I’m a known bandwagon jumper. As a declared Bulls fan, my attention was predictably placed on Michael Jordan, the deity of basketball, but you soon caught my attention. Unlike most players these days, you entered the NBA quite unnoticed. Being from the University of Little Rock, I doubt you received much fanfare. I’m sure your ego was further bruised when you heard that you were traded to the Bulls for Olden Polynice. I guess life always has a way of working out, since you were a perfect fit in a perfect team. With that team, you guys went and created the dynasty of the decade. With Michael leading the way, you guys found a way to consistently victimize Cleveland and New York come playoff time. </P><br />
<P>Michael Jordan. I’m sure you’re getting quite sick of hearing his name every time your name comes up. You guys will forever be associated together like Rasheed Wallace and technical fouls. What I don’t like about this arrangement though is how you are always seen as his sidekick; Robin to Batman, Andy to Conan. I would just like to let you know that I don’t think that you are in any way inferior to him. </P><br />
<P>It’s kind of hard to compare the two of you since you both have different roles to play on the team. Michael shoots the ball 85% of the time in a game (minus someone else’s free throws) and you clean up the mess anytime he misses. I also think that despite how great Michael is, he could not win championships without you, and vice versa. This was apparent in his recent stint with the Washington Wizards. People can blame it on his age, but I think he lacked a strong foundational player such as yourself. </P><br />
<P>I’ve always likened you to a caretaker of a school. Always there to clean up someone’s mess. I am definitely not trying to insult you. In fact, I am complimenting you. Caretakers are an integral part of an institution. Without you, the whole place would be a mess. Caretakers are there before the party and after the party is over. In your case, you were still there when Mr. Jordan retired (for the first time). You could have easily left for another team, but you stayed and managed to get your Bulls into the playoffs once again. However, as I stated earlier, you alone couldn’t pull off another championship. Despite the talents of a young Toni Kukoc and the defensive minded Pete Myers, it was not to be. </P><br />
<P>You must have been ecstatic when Jordan strapped up his sneakers once again, to take another run at the championship. I think that it took a lot of class for you to take the reins and to hand it over to him, while you step back and play the secondary role in the team. By keeping the peace and understanding your role on the team, you were able to steamroll over Seattle and Utah (twice). Oh yeah, your team also re-wrote the history books by going 72-10 along the way. </P><br />
<P>So now, you’re saying goodbye to the game. I for one, will truly miss you. I am going to miss those ridiculous clown shoes you wore for that All Star game (of which you were the MVP). I am also going to miss that Christmas day, when you posterized Patrick Ewing, then pushed him to the ground after. Speaking of the Knicks, I will definitely miss the battles you had with Starks and the New York thugs every playoff series. You are one of the major symbols of a basketball era I’ve long missed, when rivalries were truly rivalries and a team consisted of 5 men, not one superstar. </P><br />
<P>I raise this glass to you. </P></p>