The Last Dance: Jordan struggled without Pippen to best the LA Clippers

LA Clippers Michael Jordan (Mandatory Credit: J. D. Cuban /Allsport)
LA Clippers Michael Jordan (Mandatory Credit: J. D. Cuban /Allsport) /

The Last Dance premiere revealed a lot about the Bulls with one of the more shocking revelations being MJ struggled to beat the LA Clippers without Pippen.

The sports world finally was able to begin watching The Last Dance after ESPN moved up the premiere due to the lack of programming caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. There were several revelations in just the first two hours including how underpaid Scottie Pippen was. For LA Clippers’ fans, one of the bigger moments was hearing Ralph Lawler call out Michael Jordan‘s greatness.

It was in a small part of the documentary, centered around how much the 1997-98 Bulls were struggling to win without Pippen in their lineup. Pippen, who was unhappy with his contract, opted to have surgery on his foot right as the season started. This surgery ended up keeping him out of the Bulls first 35 games and they struggled to win without him.

This all came to a head as the team faced the LA Clippers. The Bulls entered the game in Los Angeles at 6-5, having not won a single road game. Even though the Clippers (who would end the season 17-65), Jordan still felt he needed to motivate the team. Film in The Last Dance shows him saying

"Let’s go out and get our first [road] win, I ain’t gonna say this s*** again."

There was visible frustration by Jordan at times as he felt he did not have any sort of help from his teammates. The Bulls needed a 49 point outing by Jordan and also ended up needing double-overtime in order to earn their first road win of the season. Luc Longley did add in 22 points for the Bulls while Toni Kukoc and Dennis Rodman scored 14 and 10 respectively. They were the only four players in double-digits.

The Clippers were led by Lamond Murray who had 24 points on 50% shooting. Brent Barry had 17 and Lorenzen Wright and Maurice Taylor scored 16 points apiece. You can view the full box score here.

Next. Three reasons the Clippers would have swept the first round. dark

It’s hard to believe that Jordan struggled against this team but it just further shows how much Scottie Pippen meant to the Bulls championship run. While we doubt there will be much more mention of the Clippers going forward, we’ll definitely be tuning in for the next eight hours of The Last Dance.