The piece will light up and be part of an upcoming add for the thirst-quenching giant that got that "Be Like Mike" song stuck in our heads permanently. Passerbys and the rush-hour commuters were privy to quite a scene as one former great paid homage to another at a neighborhood basketball court.
Pippen was gracious enough to take a few minutes to speak with us about the man all of the hubbub was about.
Scottie Pippen: It's a good opportunity to remember the greatest player in the game. It's a great salute to the greatest player, and if anyone's deserving, it's Michael. It's a tribute for him and for the fans. It's exciting for me to have my picture on one of the bottles.
Sports Pros(e): What kind of satisfaction do you get out of doing stuff to honor him and all that you were able to accomplish together?
Scottie Pippen: Well, this is really the first event I've had, and will probably be the final one. But it's important to honor and remember his career, all he did for basketball and with him going into the Hall of Fame it's a great opportunity for me to show my appreciation as well.
Sports Pros(e): You're eligible for the Hall of Fame next year, so what type of events to you have planned? Anything like this?
Scottie Pippen: I don't expect to have the things that he has going on. Obviously he had a lot of great sponsors with him. Just to get in would be great enough for me.
Sports Pros(e): When you were playing, was the Hall of Fame something you and Michael ever talked about? At a certain point, you guys had to realize it was going to be a matter of when and not if.
Scottie Pippen: No, we never did. It's something you don't think about until you leave the game. You're so caught up in the moment that you're not looking down the road. You're thinking that it's never going to end.
Sports Pros(e): It's been a long time since the Bulls' last championship, but what you guys did obviously still means a great deal to the city. What does that mean for you?
Scottie Pippen: It means a lot. Any time you do something -- whether it's high school, college or the pros -- you want to be remembered and what we did will hopefully last a long time. It's hard to look back at it because it's been, what, 15 years almost. What was it, '98?
Sports Pros(e): Yeah, 11 years. 1998.
Scottie Pippen: Eleven years? See, time is flying by. It's hard to put it in perspective. There's been a lot of other championships won since that time and no one has ever come close to doing what we were able to do. Three championships in a row..
Sports Pros(e): Twice...
Scottie Pippen: And six over an eight-year span. It's something that you kind of look forward to someone challenging it, but you don't want them to do so well that people don't remember your legacy. It's always great to look back and think, 'Man, I'm glad Shaq and Kobe got into it.'
Sports Pros(e): Now, you played with and against Michael and against Kobe...
Scottie Pippen: I played against MJ, but instead of MJ, he was JM.
Sports Pros(e): Or a lowercase mj...
Scottie Pippen: [Laughs] We were at the end of our careers. If you're asking me for a comparision, there's no comparison. Obviously I played against Kobe but he caught me at the end of my career where I was more or less holding guys more than defending them. If I had to say, the difference between Kobe and Michael, even LeBron, I think they know and I know that they haven't even scratched the surface of what Michael was able to do. Kobe is definitley flashy and has a lot of charisma, so there's some similarity there. But, he don't have what Michael had. He lacks the swagger, he lacks the consistency. He doesn't have the sort of worldwide appeal that Michael had.
Sports Pros(e): Do you think there will ever be anyone that scratches that surface and comes close?
Scottie Pippen: No. I think what Michael did really transcended the game. He was able to team up with a billion-dollar company [Nike] to really help brand him in a very positive way in time where that was wide open. Nike needed Michael more than Michael needed Nike. The partnership worked out great. It's allowed him to become a huge icon of any athlete in any sport.
Sports Pros(e): How much do you two stay in contact and when you did is it just talk of the glory days?
Scottie Pippen: No, it's just to ask how the other is doing and what the other is up to. We chat about some players around the league and what we think about this and that. We really don't see each other that much. Maybe occasionally at events like the ring ceremony we came to and things of that nature. We spent enough time together, we don't really need to see each other really. [Laughs] You know, in the gym everyday against each other for nine or ten seasons. That's a career for most people.
Sports Pros(e): You mentioned branding and that's becoming more and more a part of basketball. What advice would you offer these NBA guys? If you take a guy like Derrick Rose, what are some of the things that he could be doing on or off the court to help with that side of the game?
Scottie Pippen: I think he just needs to continue to do what he's doing on the basketball court. The company is going to go out and seek the athlete not the other way around. He's in a huge market in Chicago, hopefully the team can get better and the opportunity will come. He's definitely proven he's going to be an elite player on the basketball court, so as long as he continues to get better each and every season, the sky is the limit for him.