Michael Jordan once warned Bulls about trading Scottie Pippen for Sonics' then blue-chip prospect: "He leaves, I’m leaving"
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen's relationship has been a rollercoaster ride over the years. With plenty of ups and downs, there has been plenty of tension between the two men. Despite that, the pair seem acutely aware of the fact that they work best together, even when at odds. Following the 1996 NBA Finals, Jordan made it clear that he had no plans to play without Pippen by his side.
Although nothing ever came of the talks, reports indicated that the Chicago Bulls front office was planning to trade Scottie Pippen to Seattle. Of course, at the time, the Bulls were fresh off a championship win over the Supersonics in the 1996 NBA Finals.
According to reports, the Bulls were entertaining the idea of pairing Jordan with standout forward Shawn Kemp. After the team won the 1996 title, Michael Jordan made it clear that if Pippen left, he would follow. While speaking to media members, Michael Jordan stated:
"He’s not going nowhere," he said. "He’s one of the reasons I came back. If he leaves, I’m leaving again. As much as I admire Shawn Kemp’s ability, I’m so happy that they didn’t make that trade. A lot of people doubted Scottie Pippen for a long period of time, and you know, he’s become like a little brother to me.
Shawn Kemp's side of the story regarding the Scottie Pippen trade rumors after Michael Jordan's side
At the time, Shawn Kemp was viewed as the future of the Seattle Supersonics. With his athletic abilities that left even the biggest of defenders in trouble, 'The Reignman' emerged as an elite offensive presence inside the paint.
Given that, the Seattle Supersonics fans were in no rush to see him traded to the Chicago Bulls for Scottie Pippen, who although dominant, lacked the aura of Kemp. According to The Reignman himself, the Seattle fans made it clear that they had no intention of letting the front office trade the star forward.
He explained in an interview with Complex:
"Ackerley called me and told me they weren't going to make the trade. He was telling me people were calling the local radio stations saying they were going to burn down the stadium if I was traded."
Of course, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen went on to complete their second three-peat, while Kemp continued to compete in Seattle. After the 1996-97 season, he landed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he thrived before then notably seeing a decline after returning to camp for the 1998-99 lockout season.
Despite a comeback attempt for the 2005-06 season, Kemp wound up never playing in the NBA again.