Chicago Bulls’ legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen made quite the statement about his ex-teammate, Michael Jordan.
During an interview on Stacey King’s Gimme The Hot Sauce podcast (h/t Mitchell Forde of Athlon Sports), Pippen stated that Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar LeBron James is “the greatest statistical “basketball player ever.
But Pippen made headlines when he proceeded to call Jordan “a horrible player”, before Pippen himself joined the Bulls.
“LeBron will be the greatest statistical guy to ever play the game of basketball. And there’s no comparison to him. None…
So, does that make him the greatest player ever to play the game? I’ll leave that out for debating, because I don’t believe that there’s a great player, because our game’s a team game, and one player can’t do it. Like, I seen Michael Jordan play before I came to play with the Bulls. You guys seen him play. He was a horrible player. He was horrible to play with. He was all one-on-one, he’s shooting bad shots, and all of a sudden, we become a team and we start winning, everybody forgot who he was.”
It’s fair to make a case that James is simply a better all-time player than Jordan. But with all due respect to Pippen, it’s a giant stretch to say that the true architect of the Bulls’ dynasty was “a horrible player” before he teamed up with MJ.
Jordan arrived in the NBA three years before Pippen. Over those three seasons (1984-85 to 1986-87), Jordan averaged 28.2 points, 22.7 points and a league-leading 37.1 points per game. Jordan was also named to the All-Star Game in each of those three years.
But it’s also true that the Bulls weren’t anything close to a juggernaut until Pippen arrived. Chicago didn’t win a single playoff series between 1984-85 to 1986-87. But of course, they finally broke through with an unforgettable first-round series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1988, Pippen’s rookie year.
At the end of the day, Jordan and Pippen needed each other to lead Chicago to new heights in the ’90s. Without either of them, the Bulls don’t perform two three-peats in an eight-year span.
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