Player Focus – Scottie Pippen
There may not be anyone more underrated in NBA history than Scottie Pippen. It is understandable, however, since he played with the greatest basketball player of all time. It can also be argued that he has had the success he enjoyed since he played with Michael Jordan. Both scenarios can be true though, as Michael needed Scottie to win their six championships, and vice versa. Let’s take a look at Pippen’s game and how he helped the Chicago Bulls build a dynasty in the 90s.
Perhaps the most well-known part of Pippen’s game, he has been known as a lockdown defender for most of his career. He and MJ made the 90s Bulls teams elite defensive units. The thing that makes him an elite defender is his versatility. He is fast enough to shut down guards and strong and long enough to guard bigger wing players. He has the capability to guard elite offensive players one on one while also providing help to his teammates who are in need.
Dubbed as the first-ever “Point Forward”, Scottie was tasked numerous times to run Chicago’s offense as to free up Michael Jordan of the duties and also when there was no suitable point guard. Phil Jackson always favored big guards which is why he was letting Pippen run the offense and Scottie did not disappoint. His length, vision, and decision making made the Bulls triangle offensive sets almost perfectly executed every time. This enabled the team to build the chemistry in order to win multiple championships.
With his awesome defensive capabilities and playmaking abilities, it’s pretty obvious that Scottie’s basketball IQ is off the charts. He knows what play to make, when to pass, and where to place himself all throughout the course of the game. With this, MJ does not have to shoulder the burden of carrying the Bulls throughout the regular season and playoffs, as Pippen is the type of help that any legend would want to have. He is a lot of times the coach inside the court, as Phil Jackson trusts him with guiding the team because of his intelligence.
Pippen did not become one of the all-time greats due to natural talent, he became one of the greatest players ever due to his hard working nature. One of the things that he and Michael Jordan have in common is there drive to be the best that they can be. You can see their intensity and seriousness during practices. When the season starts, you could see that Pippen has always kept himself in game shape so as to prepare his body for the punishing regular season.
While Pippen was a great player, he is after all named as one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time, the fact that he was not able to lead a team of his own to greater heights has somewhat diminished his legacy. Not that his legacy is anything to laugh about, but playing with the greatest basketball of all time during the peak of your career will naturally convince people that he was great because of Jordan. Basketball purists, however, has recognized Pippen as a great player on his own.