Paxson: Pippen was great teammate

Jordan Presenting Pippen A Good Thing? (2:51)

First Take debates whether Michael Jordan presenting Scottie Pippen into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a good thing. (2:51)

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen balanced each other out well on the court and within the dynamics of the team, according to long-time teammate John Paxson.

"Michael was very demanding as a teammate, which was good. You wouldn't want the greatest player in the game to be anything but that," the Bulls' executive vice president of basketball operations said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "He had expectations of you. That's not to say Scottie didn't, but I think the balance was, Scottie was very much an encouraging type of teammate.

"Scottie was the type of guy where if you missed two or three in a row, he was going to encourage you to keep shooting. He was going to tell you that I'm going to find you if you're open. I think the balance of the way the two of them dealt with teammates was a really healthy thing for us."

Jordan will present his former teammate at Pippen's Hall of Fame induction on Friday in Springfield, Mass. The duo won six NBA titles together, but it was Pippen's one full season without Jordan in Chicago that left an impression on Paxson.

Jordan retired following the 1992-93 season, leaving Pippen, the sidekick, as the No. 1 option. Pippen responded with a memorable season, averaging 22 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists and winning the All-Star Game MVP. He led the Bulls to a 55-27 record in the regular season and entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the East.

The Bulls lost to the New York Knicks in Game 7 of an Eastern Conference semifinal, which included Pippen's infamous refusal to play the final 1.8 seconds of Game 3 because coach Phil Jackson called for then-rookie Toni Kukoc to take the final shot, which he made to win the game.

Despite that controversial moment, Paxson said Pippen's season proved a lot to his teammates.

"He had a phenomenal year," Paxson said. "I think the thing that stood out the most to me that year was that statistically, things didn't change much for Scottie from what his years were with Michael. You could always pencil Scottie in for between 20 and 23 points a game, he would have the eight, nine rebounds, the five, six, seven assists. And it didn't deviate [without Jordan] which to me that spoke volumes, and I think to those of us who were teammates, it showed what kind of a teammate he was. He wasn't out there to try to prove to people that he could score 30. For Scottie it was about winning. And we won 55 games that year, mostly because of him."