Postseason success in Portland
But the key thing is the fact that the Blazers made the playoffs in each season with Pippen, and never finished worst than seventh in the Western Conference. In fact, Pippen helped the Blazers withstand coaching changes as well, as Mike Dunleavy was at the helm when he arrived in Portland and Maurice Cheeks became the coach mid-way through Pippen’s Blazers career.
Pippen’s Blazers would have made it to the NBA Finals were it not for Los Angeles Lakers legendary duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, who eliminated them in three consecutive postseasons. In fact, during the 2000 Western Conference Finals, the Blazers took the Lakers to seven games before being eliminated. During that series, Pippen led the Blazers in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, while also averaging 15.1 points per game.
During the 2002 postseason series between the Blazers and the Lakers, Pippen was 36 years of age, and still posted a stat line of 16.3 points/9.3 rebounds/5.7 assists while shooting an insane 54.5 percent from 3-point range. It’s safe to say Pippen lived up to his contract, especially when you consider the totality of his contract.
But Pippen also became pivotal in the Rockets landing Tracy McGrady years later, because Kelvin Cato became a part of that deal, and the Houston Rockets acquired Cato in the Pippen trade. So not only did Pippen remain productive and consistent throughout that contract, but he later helped the Rockets form their superstar duo as well.