A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Two-Minute Warning: The Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA
BALTIMORE, MD—Sometimes in life you have to know when to say when. And former Chicago Bull’s star Scottie Pippen has decided now is the time to say when.
Scottie, I’m not going to let you get away that easily. I can’t let you slip away without giving you some props.
Like the late great Rodney Dangerfield, sometimes it seemed Scottie Pippen just didn’t get any respect.
He’s the proud owner of six NBA Championship rings, and far too many people feel that he was just along for the ride. Too many folk believe that all he did was ride Jordan’s coattails.
Scottie did a lot more than just stand around and watch Michael Jordan slam-dunk.
It’s not easy being a Superstar, but sometimes it’s even more difficult to be the Second Banana.
If Michael Jordan was Batman, then Scottie Pippen was Robin.
If Michael Jordan was The Fresh Prince, then Scottie Pippen was D.J. Jazzy Jeff
The Chicago Bulls of the 90’s have clearly established themselves as one of the preeminent dynasties in the history of not just the NBA, but in all of professional team sports. Those Bulls teams have come to be the very definition of excellence. The 72-10 season they put together in ‘95-‘96 may never happen again. However, I got a scoop for you folks. Michael didn’t do it all by himself.
Certainly there would not have been any championships in Chicago without MJ… But I would argue there’s a good chance there wouldn’t be any championship banners at all hanging in Chicago without Pippen’s presence.
I don’t think it’s an accident that Chicago didn’t start winning championships when Jordan arrived in ’84. It’s not just mere coincidence that the team didn’t become a championship contender until after Scottie Pippen showed-up in the Windy City from Central Arkansas in ’87-’88.
The Bulls were a losing team in Jordan’s first few seasons. The first year they became a winning team in the Jordan era was ’87-88, which was Scottie’s first year in Chicago. Scottie was more than just an innocent bystander during the Bull’s championship run. Pippen was a major component in one of the most accomplished Dynamic Duo’s in sports history.
Sure, there were lots of folks who made contributions to those Chicago teams. Bill Cartwright, Craig Hodges, John Paxson, B.J. Armstrong, Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper, Horace Grant, Luc Longley, Will Perdue, and on and on and on…All did their share. But all of the aforementioned were just that, contributors. Scottie Pippen was more than just a contributor. Mr. Pippen was a difference maker.
If Michael Jordan was Captain Kirk, then Scottie was Spock.
If Michael Jordan was Fred Flintstone, then Scottie was Barney Rubble.
Simply put, the Chicago Bulls would not have been the Chicago Bulls without Pippen. When Scottie was at the top of his game he was what every team covets. He was what every coach craves. He was what every happy home should have. He was the complete player. He could score, as he often carried much of the scoring burden for the Bulls. He could defend, as he may have been one of the top defenders in the league during the Bulls championship years. He could handle the rock, as he often ran the offense and played point-forward for the Bulls championship teams. He could rebound, as Pippen was one of the team’s top three rebounders through the glory years. He could run the floor, as he was often the first Bull down the floor on offense and the first Bull back on defense.
Pippen didn’t mind doing the dirty work either. In the championship years Scottie had more rebounds than Mike, more assists than Mike and more blocks than Mike.
Suffice to say he was much more than just another member of Michaels’ “Supporting Cast”.
If Michael Jordan was Gladys Knight, then Scottie Pippen was the Pips.
If Michael Jordan was Diana Ross, then Scottie Pippen was the Supremes.
There is no doubt that Scottie has what every great athlete has to have. He has tremendous ego. He has an extremely inflated belief in what he was capable of doing on the basketball court. I would submit to you that a super-sized ego is a necessity if one is to excel on the highest level against the best players in the world.
However, Scottie made the sacrifice of putting his ego on pause while he and Michael built a dynasty. He road shotgun and allowed Jordan to get behind the wheel and drive the Bulls to title, after title, after title, after title, after title, after title.
When Jordan left, Scottie’s ego emerged.
We all remember that scene during the 1994 NBA playoffs when Coach Phil Jackson drew up a play for Toni Kukoc instead of Pippen in the final seconds of a crucial playoff game. Scottie was so upset that he wasn’t the go-to guy that he refused to take the floor for the final moments of the contest.
Was Pippen acting like a spoiled brat? Probably. But I also think he was acting like a player who felt he’d earned the right to be The Man with the ball in his hands with the game on the line.
I wasn’t angry with Scottie for that act of defiance. It was wrong to be sure. But I can forgive because I know it was rooted in his strong belief in his ability to carry the load at crunch time, and his desire to show the world that he was capable of making magic happen if given the opportunity.
If Michael Jordan was Starsky, then Scottie Pippen was Hutch
If Michael Jordan was Sears, then Scottie Pippen was Roebuck
Scottie, I got news for you. You will never get the credit you deserve. Michael Jordan’s shadow is too large. The Jordan mystique is too powerful. MJ’s reach is too broad. But you and I both know the Bulls couldn’t have done it without you.
Guess what Scottie? Mike knows it too.
See ya Scottie.
Thanks for the memories.