When Michael Jordan was ordered to appear in Chicago’s federal court as part of a copyright dispute last year, court staff secretly whisked him into the building through an underground passage.
On Friday morning, Scottie Pippen had to come in through the front door.
Pippen — the all-star second fiddle to Jordan on the great Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s — was in court to testify for prosecutors in a fraud trial against his former financial advisor, Robert Lunn.
Pippen, 49, won an $11.8 million civil judgement against Lunn a decade ago, but his “losses exceed by millions of dollars the amount” he recovered after Lunn filed for bankruptcy in 2005, court papers state. Prosecutors wanted his help to ensure that Lunn pays a criminal penalty.
U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle’s courtroom was packed Friday lunchtime with curious gawkers as the 6-foot-8 star took the stand for half an hour.
Asked what he did for a living by prosecutor Ken Yeadon, Pippen prompted muted laughter with his laconic answer.
“Erm, I played professional basketball,” he said.
Wearing a suit but no tie and a glittering diamond earring, Pippen calmly identified Lunn as his former advisor. He went on to testify that Lunn had taken out a series of extensions to a $1.4 million loan in Pippen’s name without his permission after they met 1n 2000.
Pippen admitted he’d signed the original loan agreement in 2002, while he was playing for the Portland Trailblazers, but said he “didn’t pay much attention,” adding, “At the time I didn’t know quite what it was.”
He alleged his signature was forged on subsequent loan extensions, after a “red flag” was raised and he had made it clear he would not sign any more documents for Lunn.
“My relationship with Mr. Lunn was pretty much over at that point,” he said.
Under a lightning fast cross examination from Lunn’s attorney, John Beal, Pippen said he couldn’t recall other deals he allegedly did with Lunn during that time period.
And with that, his testimony was over.
After a few quick handshakes with fans in the courthouse lobby, he left — via the normal-people door.