When listing off the NBA’s greatest 1-2 punches, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are among the first to merit mention.
Through six NBA championships, a combined 21 All-Star appearances between the two, and a 514 regular season wins among them, few combinations were as potent.
The drawback of that successful partnership is that they essentially never played against one another. But on this date, 19 years ago, Pippen and the Portland Trail Blazers battled Jordan and the Washington Wizards, the first and only meeting between the two legends.
Pippen, then a 37-year-old, turned back the clock according to most accounts. He finished with a final tally of 14 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, paving the way for a 98-79 victory. According to the Associated Press recap from 2002, the two seldom guarded one another in a one-on-one setting, but offered this anecdote on the matchup.
Jordan didn’t have a bad game, shooting 6-for-10. The difference was that Pippen had more help from the rest of his team, particularly on the inside with big men Dale Davis and Arvydas Sabonis.
Pippen looked comfortable and in command, directing the offense and making the flashy passes he used to make to Jordan, while Jordan kept putting his hands on his hips in disgust after another poor defensive stand or lack of hustle from his teammates.
On his end, Jordan contributed 14 points, five rebounds, one assist and a steal on 6-of-10 shooting.
Footage of the full game is available on YouTube, as are highlights as shown above.
The two would have had an opportunity to play each other during the 2001-02 season, though Jordan had a 12-game absence in early-to-mid March, missing both meetings against the Trail Blazers. In 2002-03, it was Pippen who needed rest, missing the second meeting in mid-March.