Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The 45 Most Important Players to the Chicago Bulls Dynasty - #2 Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen is my favorite basketball player ever. I loved Scottie Pippen growing up, and watching old videos of him has only strengthened my love for him on the court. Part of the reason that I loved Pippen so much is that his story is incredible. He was nothing at basketball, to the point that he just wanted to be a team manager in college, a team manager for football. He ended up walking on to the basketball team at Central Arkansas, and then grew half a foot and became a dominant player at the NAIA level. He was so impressive that he ended up being the fifth pick of the 1987 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics, and then immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice and a few other picks going both ways.

Pippen's rookie year was nothing to write home about as he was stuck on the bench behind Brad Sellers. Still, he showed enough to take over the starting small forward position the following year. By year three, he was the Robin to Jordan's Batman, which is fitting but also totally undercuts how good of a player Pippen was.

During the 1990s, you could make a strong argument that he was one of the five best players in the NBA. Obviously you had Jordan as the best and probably Hakeem Olajuwon as the second best player, but after that? He is right on the level with guys like David Robinson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Shaquille O'Neal (a guy I'd put ahead of Pippen but a lot of that was due to his work in the 2000s).

It wasn't that Pippen was going to lead the league in any category, as he only had one year where he led the league in steals as the only time he did so. But, on any given night, he could be the best at any one of the five statistical categories. One game it would be 30 points, another it would be 12 rebounds, or maybe it was 10 assists, or five steals, or possibly even three blocks. He was great everywhere, and he could fill in to whatever those Bulls teams needed.

The biggest knock on Pippen is that he was Jordan's number two, but thanks to MJ's baseball sabbatical, we got to see what Pippen was able to do as the top dog, and it was incredible. In the 1994-95 season, Pippen led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, something that has only been done four other times in NBA history.

And it's not like Pippen didn't have highlights. He had maybe the greatest dunk ever when he not only dunked on Patrick Ewing, but then stood over him like a conqueror taking a new land.

Pippen didn't waste his time dunking over nobodies as he also decided to destroy Kevin McHale.

But his greatest highlight was after his time with the Bulls. In fact it was after his time in teh NBA as he had to make a statement at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. Justin Bieber tried throwing a garbage shot from his chest and Scottie Pippen had the easiest block of his entire career.

Pippen punked out The Biebs.

Outside of the six championships he won with the Chicago Bulls, he also managed two gold medals, as he was a part of the 1992 Dream Team as well as the less catchy 1996 US Olympic Basketball team. He was on an All-NBA Team seven times, including three times on the first-team; he was an All-NBA Defensive first teamer on eight separate occasions, and he managed to make it into seven All-Star games, including being the All-Star MVP of 1994.

After the 1998 season, Pippen forced his way out and was traded to the Houston Rockets. After one year with the Rockets, he forced another trade to the Portland Trail Blazers. The team nearly made it to the NBA Finals in 2000 but surrendered a 15-point lead thanks to some tremendous play by the Los Angeles Lakers and some tremendous calls by the NBA referees that were bound and determined to see the Lakers succeed. He spent a couple more years with the Blazers before returning to the Chicago Bulls to mentor the Baby Bulls for one year before retiring in 2004.

But Pippen will always be remembered for his first stint with the Chicago Bulls. Him and Jordan were the only players to be there from start to finish, and their names will always be tied together. Because of the pairing with Jordan, Pippen will probably be eternally underrated, but he also has six rings because of it, so I would say that it all worked out for him. Also, he punked out Justin Bieber, and not even Michael Jordan can outshine him in that regard.

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