In this episode of The Upside podcast, Scott Burrell joins Adam Finkelstein to give a first hand account of his time with the 1998 NBA Champion Chicago Bulls. That team is featured in The Last Dance, the highly anticipated documentary series that’s been breaking records for ESPN original content broadcasts since debuting last Sunday.
Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen. Dennis Rodman. Toni Kukoc. Steve Kerr. The roster was legendary but Burrell earned a key spot in Phil Jackson’s rotation after joining the team following a trade with Golden State.
Scott Burrell is one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of his home state of Connecticut. A 3-sport star at Hamden High, Burrell was recruited as a D1 quarterback and became the first person ever drafted in the first round by both MLB and the NBA.
Burrell chose basketball and UCONN’s Hall of Fame Coach Jim Calhoun over a baseball offer at Miami and became the first player in NCAA history to compile over 1,500 points, 750 rebounds, 275 assists and 300 steals. Husky fans will never forget his full court pass to Tate George for The Shot in the 1990 NCAA Tournament.
In the first episode of The Last Dance, Jordan hints at his ruthless personality towards Burrell after winning a tournament in France. That was just the beginning; fans can expect to see more “harsh leadership” lessons as the series goes on.
Burrell doesn’t want viewers to get the wrong idea of Jordan. He became the greatest because he had the greatest will to win.
Ultimately, the experience forged a lifelong friendship with Jordan. Today, Burrell appreciates how his time in Chicago has influenced his approach to the game. Now Head Coach at Southern Connecticut State University, his 75 wins over his first four years are the most successful opening four-year stretch for any Owls’ coach in program history.
More importantly, his teams have thrived academically under his watch, highlighted by consecutive recognitions by the National Association of Basketball Coaches with its Team Academic Award.
The Last Dance was really just the beginning for Scott Burrell.