Scottie Pippen announced his retirement from the Chicago Bulls, the team he and Michael Jordan led to six NBA titles in the 1990s.

"This was a very difficult decision for me to retire from playing a game that has been such a great part of my life," Pippen said in a statement released yesterday by the Bulls. "My family and I would like to thank the fans and the entire Chicago Bulls organization."

Pippen, 39, voted one of the NBA's 50 greatest players in 1996 in a poll commemorating the league's 50th anniversary, was known for his all-around play -- especially his defense against some of the league's best scorers.

"His contributions to this franchise during his tenure here have been innumerable," said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. "As an organization, we thank him for everything."

Pippen was brought back to Chicago last season to give a young Bulls team leadership and experience, but he had knee surgery in December and played in only 23 games as the Bulls went 23-59. It was the first time in his career the seven-time all-star had missed the playoffs.

After his championship years with the Bulls, Pippen was traded to Houston in 1999 after the lockout, played one season with the Rockets and then spent four years in Portland. He signed a two-year, $10 million deal to return to Chicago and averaged 5.9 points per game.

"Scottie Pippen is the epitome of a true professional. He is a great teammate and a winner who is one of the best to ever wear a Bulls uniform," said John Paxson, the team's executive vice president of basketball operations, who played with Pippen in Chicago.

"Our decision to bring Scottie back last summer served us well and it is unfortunate he will not be a leader of our team again this year. Scottie will always be a part of the Chicago Bulls family and we wish him nothing but the best."

-- From News Services

Scottie Pippen, 39, who with Michael Jordan helped the Chicago Bulls dominate in the 1990s, was a seven-time all-star and a defensive standout.