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Hoop Dreams

Scottie and Larsa Pippen invite NS into their North Shore home for an exclusive interview about family, home and giving back.

Married for 15 years, Larsa and Scottie Pippen make a winning team.

Clockwise from left: Sophia, Scottie, Larsa, Scotty, Preston and Justin Pippen

The master bath

The living room

It’s 9am on a Monday in early December when our NS magazine team of eight converges on the North Shore home of Scottie and Larsa Pippen for an all-day photo shoot and interview. We’d asked first, of course, after learning that the couple will be honored at this month’s annual gala, “An Evening with the Chicago Bulls,” on Jan. 8 at the United Center, for their charitable contributions to the Chicago Bulls charity as well as the many other organizations they support. We thought our NS readers might want to know what family life is like for the former NBA all-star and his brood. Plus, Scottie and Larsa are a gorgeous couple, and we wanted to photograph them in fabulous clothes in their beautiful home. By the end of the day, we would all know one another very well—maybe too well, but getting up close and personal also means getting the best story. Here, we hold court.

North Shore Living
By 10am, the Pippens’ home is bustling with activity. Larsa is having hair and makeup done at the kitchen table while tweeting and talking to the seven of us crowding the room—hairstylist, makeup artist, nanny, Larsa’s mom, 3-year-old Sophia, our photographer, and this controlling editor arranging hydrangeas and calla lilies in a vase. Scottie, sporting a sweatsuit, quietly lopes in for some breakfast, his 6-foot-6 presence filling the already full room. I’m surprised to find that he’s a little shy and to hear how deep his voice is. We all sit down to talk, and I want to know: With a second big home down in warm, sunny Florida, why did they choose to remain on the North Shore after Scottie retired from the Bulls?

“The reason we are here is because the Bulls are family to us,” says Larsa. “We love the schools on the North Shore. It’s a great, safe place to raise kids, and we can’t imagine living anywhere else.” One of five, Larsa grew up in Skokie, and her whole family still lives in the area. Born and raised in Arkansas, Scottie came here when he was 22 years old. “I love Chicago and most of my life has been here,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun in summer, and it’s a good sports town.” (Ya think?)

Scottie also loves golf in Chicago, which he took up after retirement. “There are so many great golf courses around,” he says. Scottie plays at clubs all over the North Shore including Kemper Lakes, The Glen Club and Lake Shore Country Club. Last summer, he played alongside Ben Crenshaw and Richard Dent in the Ryder Cup Captains and Celebrities scramble. But the cool-as-a-cucumber B-ball player had to go out and walk the golf course the night before. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be too nervous,” he says, “but it was a lot of fun.” And fun is obviously the name of the game at home; that is, after the kids finish their homework.

A Day In the Life
Asked to describe his typical day, Scottie says, “I’m up at 5am, go work out, and come back to make breakfast and get the kids ready for school.” Apparently, he’s the foodie in the home. “Scottie makes a great breakfast,” says Larsa. His specialty: French toast. When I ask him about his recipe, the playful Scottie shines through. “It’s a secret to be told, not sold,” he says à la Ali, as he grabs a grapefruit from the bowl on the counter. He cuts one end off, sprinkles some sugar on it, and scoops out the flesh, rather deftly, with a spoon. Scottie says he discovered the French toast at Café Du Berry in Portland, Ore. “I went there all the time to have it,” he says wistfully, “and the owner gave me the recipe.”

While the kids are at school, Scottie wears a different hat, as Ambassador for the Bulls. “I am the face for the organization because I played here for so long,” he says. “I work with sponsors, public relations people, media and fans to keep the relationships solid.” And he plays pickup ball, like on Election Day when he shot some hoops with President Obama. “He plays fine,” says Scottie. “He’s an unselfish player.”

By 11:30am, we are gearing up for the first shoot of the couple in the living room. Larsa is trying on outfits in the master bedroom, and every one looks fabulous on her—we decide on the Gucci dress to start. Scottie comes in and slips on a sweater, his own slacks and shoes, and he’s ready. They’re comfortable in front of the camera and with one another, as Scottie wraps his arms around Larsa and poses for our opener shot. Larsa tells me later that she and Scottie met through a friend of hers who was dating his teammate.

“I had reservations about dating an NBA player,” she says, “but Scottie turned out to be everything I wanted but didn’t expect­—just a perfect gentleman, so sweet and nice, and not a party animal.” They were engaged three months later and married within the year.

It’s lunchtime, and I run out for sandwiches and homemade chips from Moderno. By the time I return, Larsa and entourage are back in the kitchen changing her hair for the next shoot. Now all 13 of us cram into the kitchen, grab a sandwich, and find a place to sit or perch around the table and island to have lunch like one big family. Larsa wants to know about everyone’s life and children while she is showing our makeup artist how to post a YouTube video.

TV, Reality and Giving Back
Time to find out more about Larsa, her one season stint on The Real Housewives of Miami and a possible upcoming reality show with the whole family. “I don’t know if Scottie can commit the time,” she says. Larsa, though, has been shooting with friend Kim Kardashian on E! Network’s Kourtney & Kim Take Miami, which will air this month. “Housewives was a good experience,” she says, “but I wanted to bring to light all the charities that are dear to us, and none of that [footage] made it onto the show.”

Larsa is currently actively involved with the Bright Pink Foundation. “I want to teach girls to listen to their bodies and be proactive about wellness,” she says. Scottie continues as a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, recently appearing in the Goodman Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol with one of the children. “It’s one of those feelings you can’t duplicate,” says Scottie. “That you did the right thing and made someone very happy.”

At about 2pm, Scottie walks in wearing a cream Ermenegildo Zegna jacket with a tie and lapel pin, both in bold orange. “Ladies and gentlemen, here comes Urkel!” he jokes, poking fun at himself. Time for take two with Larsa and Scottie in the family room. She’s wearing a Lila Rose dress, with a splash of orange to play off of Scottie’s lapel pin, and Jimmy Choo shoes.

Soon after, the three Pippen boys—Scotty, Preston and Justin—bound in from school. Scottie gets them snacks­ (yogurt sticks and Skinny Pop) and takes a box out of the freezer to show us. “I’m going to tell you a secret,” he says. “This is the best tiramisu you can find, and I get it at Costco.” Larsa looks sideways at me and says, “Do you want a glass of wine, Elaine?” I think she meant “need” as Scottie pours one for himself and ushers the boys to the dining room table. They hunker down to start homework before the family portrait. The youngest, Justin, is missing his two front teeth, which is adorable, but he resists smiling for us. It looks like he plays straight man for the family.

Naturally, the day ends in the family’s indoor basketball court. “I like to mess around with my kids,” says Scottie, but that’s already clear. He’s bent over teaching little Sophia how to dribble and taking some shots with the boys in between. As I’m saying goodbye, Scottie walks me to the door, hands me an autographed photo and looks down at me, saying, “So, did you get everything you need from me?” Indeed.