For one day at Bulls training camp, it was 1994 all over again. There was Michael Jordan, sitting in the bleachers, and not too far away stood John Paxson (now the team's general manager) and B.J. Armstrong (a special assistant). On the floor Bill Cartwright directed Scottie Pippen, who in the off-season signed a two-year, $10 million deal with his old team. "It's nice that the whole gang is here," said a smiling Pippen. "It's always great to feel welcome."
The scene went a long way toward explaining why the 38-year-old Pippen chose to return to Chicago, where he played his first 11 years and won six rings, instead of heading to a title contender. After four turbulent years in Portland he's back in a city that he and his family love—Pippen kept his downtown condo—with fans that appreciate him and a staff straight out of the Bulls' team photo from 10 years ago. (Even Bill Wennington is a radio commentator.)
Pippen should play limited minutes under Cartwright, who worked him only one session a day during two-a-days and needs him to serve as a role model for this gifted, impressionable team. "Some of these guys were in diapers when I first came into the league," Pippen says as he surveys his teammates. "My job is to show them how to be professionals and get them to play hard every night." Adds Cartwright, "When advice comes player to player, it carries a lot more weight."
And if things get dull, Pippen can always call on a bald-headed former running mate. "Maybe I'll get him out here on the floor every once in a while and get his butt back into shape," Pippen says of Jordan. Clearly, it's good to be home again.