Scottie Pippen: Michael Jordan was a ‘horrible player’ before he joined originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Scottie Pippen, longtime small forward and six-time champion with the Chicago Bulls, pinned Michael Jordan as a “horrible player” before Pippen joined the team in 1987.
Am I hearing this correctly?
“I’ve seen Michael Jordan play before I came to the Bulls. You guys have seen him play. He was a horrible player,” Pippen said on the Gimme the Hot Sauce! podcast. “He was horrible to play with. It was all 1-on-1, shooting bad shots. All of a sudden, we become a team and we start winning. Everybody forgot who he was. He was a player who was really not at the top of his category.”
I’ll argue this in a second. First, I’ll let Pippen do some of the heavy lifting.
Not even less than a minute later, another ex-Chicago Bull, Stacey, King, asked Pippen who would win a game between the 72-10 Chicago Bulls and 73-9 Golden State Warriors. Pippen didn’t waste a second.
“C’mon, man. We’re the greatest team ever. Had MJ not left, we probably could’ve won 2-3 more titles,” Pippen said.
I thought Jordan was a “horrible player”? How could they have won two more titles? I guess Pippen would’ve counterargued that his presence on the team would’ve lifted Jordan and the 1998 Bulls to more titles.
Nevertheless, there might not be a more egregious and objectively wrong contention about Jordan’s playing career.
The final season before Pippen joined the Bulls in 1986-87, Jordan averaged 37.1 points (the most in a single season of his career) along with 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game on just under 50 percent shooting from the field. His efficiency and assists increased after Pippen’s arrival, but what else?
Pippen’s presence likely supported Jordan winning the Defensive Player of the Year award during Pippen’s rookie year, I’ll give him that. But a horrible player? “Horrible player” and “Michael Jordan” are words that should never be in the same sentence. Pippen also put Jordan in his all-time starting five. The logic doesn’t add up anywhere.
The six NBA championships Jordan, Pippen and the 90s Bulls won would not have been possible without Pippen. He’s arguably the greatest second-best player to exist on a team. Jordan recognized it too, famously saying “There is no Michael Jordan without Scottie Pippen.” That’s where the debates get interesting. One player can’t do it all, as Pippen said on the podcast, too. But if Jordan wasn’t around, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Another point Pippen stood on — this one more reasonable — was his stance on LeBron James as the greatest “statistical” player of all time.
“LeBron is the greatest winner,” Pippen said. “He’s a lot older now and gets criticized a lot. He’s never been a shotmaker. He’s never been the guy to take the last shot. He’s never been great at that. I said this many years ago, and I got criticized for it. When LeBron James leaves the game, he’ll be the greatest statistical player to ever play the game.”
Pippen went on to mention he’s been saying this since James was “two to three years” into the NBA. Unfortunately, Pippen would be wrong again. I’ll let him counterargue again.
“Michael Jordan’s the greatest player to ever put on shoes and play in our game. No doubt about it. There is no game where I would pick LeBron James over Michael Jordan,” Pippen said on ESPN in 2018 when debating the topic of Jordan versus James.
Pippen’s recent comments are an unfortunate product of his relationship with Jordan. By no means are his arguments backed by any strong, logical evidence to help his case. There are many instances where he’s counterargued himself, like the ones shown above.
The onus of Pippen’s argument comes from his personal gripes with Jordan. He mentioned on the podcast he doesn’t believe his relationships with Jordan and Phil Jackson can be amended. His argument holds zero weight and is charged by the factor of his connection with Jordan.