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Pippen says this is the last running of Bulls

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Scottie Pippen dropped the big one Thursday.

On the eve of what could become Chicago's sixth NBA championship celebration in eight years, Pippen confirmed speculation that this will likely be the final running of the Bulls."I don't have any intention of coming back here next season, even though I stated a couple of days ago that I would look to come back," said Pippen, who plans to pursue free agency. "I think this is the last run for the ball club."

The announcement came minutes after Michael Jordan, who has been contemplating retirement, told reporters he thought the door was still open for Pippen's return. Should it be closed, Game 5 of the NBA Finals could be Jordan's last.

"It's going to be hard for me not to think of it in that way," Jordan said. "I'm going to think of it in a way that we're finishing off the season. From the beginning we wanted to play and win our last game."

Jordan declined to comment on his future, though he did express a desire to play with Pippen. And he wants Phil Jackson back as head coach. All three, however, could take separate career paths once the Finals are complete.

"A lot of things can happen, and so it's something you have to think about," Jordan said. "Once we accomplish the job, management has to choose a direction in terms of where they want to go."

Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has gone public with an offer to bring the principles back for another year. Pippen, however, cites the longevity of his career as the main reason for saying no thank you. He is looking for a long-term deal but wants another championship ring first. Pippen said a sixth title would be a fitting end to the turmoil in Chicago.

"I'm sure this one would mean more to us, especially to myself, Michael and Phil, realizing that we're probably in our final season together," Pippen said. "We'd love to have the opportunity to go out on top. And I think that's been the drive for us the whole season."