Pippen much more than Jordan’s “Robin”
October 2, 2012
After often taking a backseat to Michael Jordan during a 6 championship run with the Chicago Bulls for several years, the greatness that was Scottie Pippen often gets ignored. Pippen had the athleticism to overwhelm opponents offensively and defensively. In Chicago, coach Phil Jackson used Scottie to harass ball handlers to create easy opportunities for himself and his teammates. Jackson also used to Pippen to create mismatches and had him guard positions 1-5. He was athletic enough to keep up with guards, and powerful enough to hold his own against forwards and centers, all while using his quick hands to strip the ball. Jordan was a defensive force is his own right, winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 1988. Often, however it was Pippen who guarded the other team’s best offensive player for a majority of the game, then MJ in small spurts. The fact that Scottie Pippen didn’t to win the award during his career with the Bulls still baffles me. Jackson used Pippen and Jordan to suffocate an opponent’s back court in order to make up for the lack of a dominant paint presence.
Everyone had their role; Jordan’s was to score, Pippen’s to defend, Rodman’s to rebound, etc… This doesn’t mean Pippen wasn’t able, because he was more than capable of leading the Bulls in scoring (which he did, during Jordan’s 1st retirement). Scottie Pippen had a complete offensive skill set. He could score in the post, had the pull up jumper in transition, and will DUNK ON YOU (see 1:38). From 91-97, the Chicago Bulls dominated the NBA and Pippen had just as much to do with it as Jordan did. During that span he averaged 20, 7, and 6, and 2 steals pg not bad for a “role player.” Pippen often sacrificed his offensive game in order to make the team more effective.
Yes, the Chicago Bulls were always MJ’s team and he was the unquestioned leader. Scottie Pippen however, was just as valuable as Jordan was, he just had a different role. Throughout games, Pippen would dominant defensively and took over offensively occasionally. Without him, Jordan doesn’t win 6 championships and cement his legacy as the GOAT. Pippen is listed as one of the top 50 NBA players of all time, and rightly so. His unique athleticism and skills set brought on the new age of versatile forwards like Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill, to Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony. His career achievements and impact on the game will forever be defined by the saying “There is no ‘I’ in team.”