Scottie Pippen steps out of Jordan’s shadow and into the Hall of Fame

out of the shadow

Scottie Pippen will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame tonight. To say his induction will be well-deserved is putting it rather lightly, don’t you think?

Pippen logged 41,609 minutes in 1,178 career games, scoring 18,940 points, grabbing 7,494 rebounds and dishing out 6,135 assists. I guess you could say he had a nice, all-around game.

That assist total, by the way, ranks 26th all time…ahead of legends like Larry Bird (5,695), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,660) and Michael Jordan (5,633), not to mention scads of point guards and playmakers (such as Mookie Blaylock, Sam Cassell, Avery Johnson, Dennis Johnson, Doc Rivers, Mark Price, etc.). MJ gets most of the credit for leading the Bulls to six titles, but Pippen did his fair share of making teammates better.

As Sam Smith of Bulls.com wrote: “Steve Kerr used to recount times on the floor he’d go several minutes and not get a shot and become a bit wary. He said Pippen would run by him and say, ‘I know you haven’t gotten a shot. Don’t worry. Next time, I’ll get you one.’ Kerr said it was uncanny Pippen seemed to know what everyone on the court needed.”

On the subject of ranking high, Pippen is 13th all-time in steals per game (2.0) and 6th all-time in total steals (2,307), trailing only Maurice Cheeks (2,310), Jason Kidd (2,343), Gary Payton (2,445), Michael Jordan (2,514) and John Stockton (3,265). Maybe somebody should give him a black ski mask as a HoF induction gift.

You see, defense was Scottie’s bread and butter, which is why he made the All-NBA Defensive First Team eight straight times (1991-92 through 1998-99) and the All-NBA Defensive Second Team two other times (1990-91 and 1999-2000).

And if you enjoy advanced stats, it’s worth pointing out that Pippen finished in the top 10 in Defensive Rating five times (including a first place finish in 1994-95). He also finished with five top 10 finishes in Defensive Win Shares, a category in which he ranks 15th all-time. That rank puts him ahead of former teammates Jordan (19th) and Dennis Rodman (29th), both of whom are ranked among the NBA’s all-time great defensive forces.

Well, Pippen is right there with them. With anybody, really.

Here’s some wacky random for you. Do you even know how Scottie ended up on the Bulls? On November 12, 1986, the New York Knicks traded their 1987 1st round draft pick along with a 1990 2nd round draft pick (Steve Henson) to the Seattle Supersonics for Gerald Henderson and a 1987 1st round draft pick (Mark Jackson).

Then, on June 22, 1987, the Seattle Supersonics traded the draft pick they got from the Knicks (which would become Scottie) along with their 1989 1st round draft pick (Jeff Sanders) to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice, a 1988 2nd round draft pick (Sylvester Gray) and a 1989 1st round draft pick (B.J. Armstrong, who was traded right back to the Bulls for Brad Sellers, whom Pippen made obsolete).

It was as “simple” as that.

No offense to Polynice and Gray, but the Bulls made out like friggin’ bandits in that deal. Even if there was no way they could have known that at the time. I mean, how can you predict a guy is going to make seven All-Star teams, seven All-NBA teams (first, second or third) and help guide your team to six championships?

I know it may seem like I’m reducing Pippen to stats, trivia and trophies. But I’m not. I’m really not. It’s just that I enjoy the perspective that Scottie’s accomplishments provide. The more subjective historical view will now and forever characterize Pippen as the Robin to Jordan’s Batman. ESPN’s J.A. Adande even described Pippen as the ultimate wingman.

The best second-best player ever. The meanest second fiddle that’s ever been played. The top second banana in league history. So on and so forth. This notion has been so ingrained in the consciousness of NBA fans that almost every time a team is searching for a compliment to an existing superstar, the would-be sidekick is usually described as a “Scottie Pippen type.”

I suppose some people would say that’s high praise. But personally, I think it detracts somewhat from Pippen’s greatness.

Yeah, I get that Scottie didn’t do the best job of ingratiating himself with an NBA fandom that never quite fully embraced him. There were problems. Like the migraine he got during one of the biggest games of his life. Or the 1.8-second boycott during one of the most important games of his life.

In January 1994, Pippen was arrested for possession of a firearm, although the charges were dropped after he accused the arresting officer of racism. Speaking of which, Pippen also accused Bulls fans of racism for not booing Tony Kukoc for stinking up the court.

During a 1995 game against the Spurs, he responded to his second technical foul (and the ensuing automatic ejection) by throwing a chair onto the court.

On top of all that, there were feuds with management, complaints about being underpaid, trade demands and even the threat that he might retire during Chicago’s final championship run in 1997-98.

Normally, these points are brought up to minimize Pippen’s place in history. I’m bringing them up because they didn’t matter. Not in terms of what Scottie accomplished on the court. Not in the big picture.

Forget the fact that he wasn’t as good as the greatest player of all time, who just so happened to be his teammate. Forget the distractions. Just look at what he did.  Pippen doesn’t need to make any apologies for not making the most of his talent. He was a defensive demon. He could control a game without taking a shot. And he won. And won. And won.

In the end, those are the things that define Scottie Pippen.

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16 Responses to Scottie Pippen steps out of Jordan’s shadow and into the Hall of Fame

  1. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob August 13, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    Playing on one of the best defensive teams in NBA history for 9 years didn’t hurt Pippens stats. True he was one of the biggest reasons the Bulls were the best defensive team of their era. But lets not forget about Cartwright, Grant, Jordan, Armstrong, Longley, Purdue, Rodman the list goes on. Everyone of them knew that in order to win championships they had to play defense first. I can not count the times that I watched the Bulls turn a potential double digit loss into a win with their defense. It was scary to watch and often times you could feel it coming. That is one of the reasons that I am thrilled with the players that the Bulls have added this year. For the most part they have the potential to play good to great defense, with one of the best NBA defensive minds coaching them. It is the next step back toward an NBA championship.

  2. www.dipenpatel@bbth.com'
    BULL4EVER August 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    Chicago has always had zero belief in this totally idiotic November circus trip,especially when we are the first team to tally off five straight road wins against teams with over 500. win percentages.Man,these idiotic BULL-haters can November circus trip this from Jan 22 through Jan 29 of 2010. GO BULLS BABY!!!!!

  3. Treydog August 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    During his time with the Bulls from his rookie year to the championship years, not only did I admire Pippen’s defense I also admired the way he improved his offense every year as well. At his prime, Pippen would be known as a player who could hit the 3, had a decent mid-range game, had a deadly bank shot, drove aggressive to the bucket, was unstoppable on a fast break, and was not afraid to take the last shot at the end of quarters and games. Scottie embraced and flourised as the second leading scorer for the Bulls while also looking out for his teammates to make sure they were involved. Chicago thanks you for helping the Bulls win 6 NBA titles and from someone who saw the Bulls go from nothing to Champions thank you for the exilerating experience that I will cherish for a lifetime.

  4. davidpaulroosa@yahoo.com'
    AK Dave August 13, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    To me, the thing that separates Pip from the pack is:

    He could guard ALL 5 POSITIONS, from ultra-quick PG’s to bigs like Karl Malone. Pip was NEVER on the wrong end of a mismatch.

    He could score FROM ANYWHERE, and anyhow. Spot-ups, drives, post-play, 3-pointers, transition-play, alley-oops, whatever. He could do that, and do it supremely well.

    The man was, IMO the most COMPLETE basketball player we’ve ever seen. His game was 100% water-tight. He had no weakness to exploit. On top of that, his fitness and conditioning was amazing. He was a physical specimen to the day he retired.

  5. contrerasadvocates@yahoo.com'
    Savage August 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    There is a video on ESPN right now where Skip Bayless (the moron that he is) says there is no way Pippen is in the to 50 players ever and went even further (to prove how much of a moron he is) by saying Pippen doesn’t even belong in the Hall of Fame. I can not believe that someone that stupid with such little basketball IQ as Skip Bayless has a job talking and writing about sports. He is such a moron it goes beyond words. In my opinion Pippen is one of the to 50 players ever and CLEARLY belongs in the hall of fame. Skip “idiot” Bayless attempted to discredit all of Pippens great on court presence and stats to MJ. That is just moronic. It takes all kinds I guess.

  6. Anonymous August 13, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    Savage I can’t stand Skip Bayless. He always says idiotic stuff like that just to bring attention among himself and rile others up. Just ignore the worthless sack of crap that he is. He probably is also another moron that thinks Rondo is better than Rose and Rondo is best PG in NBA and that the Heat team could beat 72-10 Bulls and break their record.

  7. kingdave31@gmail.com'
    Future Guy August 13, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    Hey Skip Bayless, how’s the weather up your own ass? I swear, that guy is the ESPN equivalent of Sean Hannity. Scottie was one of the greatest players ever. Bill Simmons has him ranked at #24 all-time, but I’m not sure he shouldn’t be higher than that. He’s in my all-time starting 5: Russell, Bird, Pippen, MJ, and Magic.

  8. joesez@gmail.com'
    joe August 14, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    So who here is an ESPN Insider? I’m not.

  9. www.dipenpatel@bbth.com'
    BULL4EVER August 14, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    5 records that are immortal/4ever.Chicago’s 72 wins,Braves’s,14 straight NL East titles,Nolan Ryan’s two straight no-hitters,Jason Elam’s 63-yard field goal, and Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.These 5 have always been way too great to describe in the best possible way because these 5 feats are the safest feats that will stay no matter what.Those stupid 72 dolphins have been waiting to die since 1972 because someone will tally off 19-0 perfection in the near future,[not to mention] it was also just a 14-game format back then.GO BULLS BABY!!!!!

  10. gvp7@hotmail.com'
    gerry August 14, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

    The Skip Bayless comment on Scottie not being worthy of the HOF irked me more than anything he’s ever said.

    That guy is a friggin character! He doesn’t seem real to me anymore. I think he’s just a troll that escaped the internet and bamboozled ESPN into giving him a job.

    It always bothers me that he and other Scottie detractors always point out the flaws on his resume like the Knick game that he sat out or the migraines or whatever, but conveniently leave out the accolades that make him more than worthy enough to warrant a spot in the HOF.

  11. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob August 14, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Without Pippen, Jordan would be LBJ, the best player never to win an NBA championship.

  12. doubleaccord@gmail.com'
    Tony C. August 14, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    This is a trivial tangent, but WTF is the point of having a “presenter” at a ceremony like that, if all they are expect to do is walk up and stand on stage with the inductee? Shouldn’t they be allowed to say a few brief words? How absurd.

  13. DipenPatel@Chicagobreakingsports.com'
    BULL4EVER August 15, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    Jordan may have never even been to the Finals,forget about not even winning a single NBA title,that may have been Jordan’s situation without Pippen.Chicago has always and always will be Jordan’s team,but he may have not even been to the Finals without Pippen,forget a single NBA title or 6 NBA titles. GO BULLS!!!!!

  14. kingdave31@gmail.com'
    Future Guy August 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Not only did MJ not win any championships without Pippen, he didn’t even win a playoff series until Scottie came along.

  15. Anonymous August 26, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    shadow games please

  16. ericmedina@medina.com'
    eric June 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Pippen was a decent player, no doubt about that. But to claim that Jordan’s worth was dependant upon Pippen is to never have seen Jordan play. I mean, that statement is typical (among other fools) of Kobe or Lebron fans, who have no knowledge of the kind of juggernut Jordan was but recent the fact thet their idols could not toch Jordan’s stature. With all these nice stats metioned here favoring Pippen, the fact is that if I had a dime for every moment Jordan cleaned up after his timid butt, I would be rich. I saw the whole Bulls run and that is just a fact. It is Pippen who owes it all to Jordan. Jordan could have just as well won with Bart Simpson.

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