"Yes, you lost one of your brothers -- a warrior in every sense of the word -- but I know and you know you've still got a lot of fight left. You're still the best team in the NBA until an opponent proves otherwise. So go out there and play like it. You've earned that much with Derrick along the way, but you also won a lot of games without him. It's time to meet the challenge."
Many have came to the conclusion that the Bulls' season is now over. With their best player out, it seems like a death sentence, as some fans speculated. However, Pippen disagrees and thinks this year's Bulls can handle the task of winning even without their main man.
"Yes, Derrick was the reigning NBA MVP, but he epitomizes the team concept and you all followed his lead. So it's been the effort of the group, as well as a tremendous job by the coaching staff, which has gotten us to this point. And it's exactly why I feel good about this team right now. You're a group that remains together. You've repeatedly lifted each other up when a teammate has fallen.
"Now, it comes down to continuing to give your best effort every time you step on to the basketball court. It's easy to say you're doing that, but are you really dedicating yourself to another two months of basketball? As a player, that's what I always wanted out of my teammates. Just make sure you arrive on gameday focused and full of energy. If guys want to just show up and take on the 76ers or whoever, well, that might not be enough to get the job done. It takes locking in on the task at hand and honing in on what you need to do in order to be successful in the NBA postseason."
Pippen has attended many of Chicago's games this year courtside, as he serves as the team's ambassador.
"With or without Derrick, the ship has to continue to sail. And as he told many of you, it's time to re-dedicate yourselves to staying on track. I know none of you are ready to stop working and you want more than anything to win for Derrick. That's the best tribute you could make for him. And in a way, it would very much make him a part of it.
"He'll be with you the rest of the way whether he's in the gym or not, watching and supporting. While you hate to see what happened happen, adversity often brings a team together even more than they were before. It's all about how you react to that adversity."
I agree overall with what Pippen is saying. Chicago has all the depth they need to get past the Philadelphia 76ers. The question is if they can carry themselves past the Boston Celtics or Atlanta Hawks in the next round.
Get more great sports analysis over at FootBasket.