Bulls History: Scottie Pippen’s career nearly tainted by 1994 gun charges

Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls (JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)
Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls (JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images) /

Scottie Pippen has been in the news a lot recently because of his beef with former teammate Micheal Jordan. But this wasn’t the only negative news Pippen found himself in, as he was once arrested for having a gun in his car. This incident occurred back in 1994. After Jordan retired from the NBA, all eyes were on Pippen to lead the Chicago Bulls.

Pippen responded beautifully on the court during the regular season, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. He also won the 1994 All-Star Game MVP. Pippen’s outstanding play was almost overshadowed just after midnight on January 20, 1994, when the Chicago Bulls forward was out at a restaurant having dinner after struggling in a game against the Washington Bullets.

Despite Pippen shooting 7-for-21 from the field and scoring just 15 points, the Bulls pulled out the 84-83 victory. While Pippen was enjoying his late-night dinner, police were outside the restaurant, checking his Range Rover, which was parked illegally.

Inside of Pippen’s car was a loaded .38-caliber pistol. Pippen exited the restaurant and was placed under arrest. The Chicago Bulls star had a license for the gun, but the law in Illinois said it was illegal to carry in public.

“He was processed like any other arrestee,” Watch Commander Walter Logan stated.

Pippen was charged with illegal possession, which is a misdemeanor. He was placed in jail for 45 minutes before being released on a $100 cash bond. Pippen’s car was also impounded. After the arrest, Pippen made a statement apologizing for the incident.

“I really want to apologize to my family and friends because of the negative press and reaction I got,” Pippen said.

Scottie Pippen has had several run-ins with the law, but many forget how a 1994 arrest could have ruined his legendary Bulls career.

This wasn’t the only time Pippen spoke about the gun charge. After the season, Pippen gave an interview, noting the entire incident was blown out of proportion.

"“Things that were taken totally out of proportion. First of all, having the gun in my car, yes, it was wrong, I shouldn’t have had a gun in my car. It was an accident on my part that the gun was left in my car. It was therefore, it was tucked away, it was locked away in a glove compartment and it shouldn’t have been found. But it was found and it was taken, you know, to the next level. It was laying on the seat, I mean, why would I have a gun laying on the seat? I mean, there’s no one out to kill me or hit me and knock me off, so I mean that was taken to another level.”"

Pippen agreed the incident looked bad for his image. Unfortunately for Pippen, it wouldn’t even be his most memorable bad moment in the league, as he had a far more public meltdown during the 1994 NBA Playoffs. With 1.8 seconds left in Game 3 of a heated series against the New York Knicks, Pippen did the unthinkable. He took himself out of the game when head coach Phil Jackson drew up the final play for rookie Toni Kukoc.

Pippen believed the shot belonged to him, as Jordan was retired. This was not wrong for Pippen to have assumed, but refusing to play was not a good look for Pippen.

Pippen would recover to play a pivotal role in the Bulls winning three more titles, giving them six NBA championships in the 1990s. As for the incident with the gun, the charges were eventually dropped. A judge determined police seized the gun during an illegal search. Pippen had a few other run-ins with the law after 1994, but his infamous gun incident would fade from most fans’ memories.

Next. MJ's forgotten response to Allen Iverson's iconic crossover. dark