Scottie Pippen Completes His Journey from Hamburg, Arkansas to the Basketball Hall of FameScottie Pippen was officially enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night. Pippen is one of the two dozen greatest players in basketball history, in the category right below the icons of the game who occupy the sport's Pantheon. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen comprised the most versatile--and, arguably, the greatest--duo in NBA history and one of the greatest tandems in sports history, period. Pippen's legacy is not merely about numbers and awards, although even just a sampling of his accomplishments proves that his resume is bursting with great statistics and many honors:
- 10 All-Defensive Team selections (tied with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett for fourth all-time behind Tim Duncan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bobby Jones)--including eight First Team honors (tied for third all-time, just one behind Jordan and Gary Payton)--plus seven All-NBA Team selections (including three First Team honors)
- 1994 All-Star Game MVP
- 1995 NBA steals champion
- First all-time in NBA/ABA career playoff steals, sixth all-time in NBA/ABA career playoff assists, tied for seventh all-time in NBA/ABA career playoff three point field goals made, 13th all-time in NBA/ABA career playoff points and 15th all-time in NBA/ABA career playoff rebounds
- In 1994-95, Pippen became just the third player in NBA/ABA history to lead his team in ppg, rpg, apg, spg and bpg in the same season (Julius Erving and Dave Cowens had previously accomplished this, while Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady would subsequently do so)
- Pippen played a critical role on six Chicago championship teams (1991-93, 1996-98) and he surprised a lot of basketball fans by leading the Bulls to a 55-27 record in 1993-94 after Jordan retired just prior to that season; if not for a horrible call by Hue Hollins, the Bulls likely would have advanced to the NBA Finals that season and possibly even won the championship
- Although Pippen is the second youngest member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team (forever known as the "Dream Team," they were enshrined collectively by the Hall of Fame on Friday) he hardly took a back seat to the established legends: Pippen led the squad in assists and ranked second in steals
If you don't know how great Pippen was--or if you just would like a refresher course--check out these videos:
In the first two videos we see some great examples of Pippen's defensive virtuosity. Some people act like LeBron James invented the so-called "chase down" block but Julius Erving actually made that an art form in the 1970s and 1980s, while Pippen also had his share as well--but what made Pippen special as a defender was his versatility and completeness: he could literally guard any position, plus serve as a help defender, and he not only racked up steals and blocks but he took charges--and not fake charges by flopping but legit charges in which he stood his ground and took body contact to draw the foul.
As Coach Phil Jackson said, Pippen was "a one-man wrecking crew."
The next video showcases Pippen's all-around greatness: he could score from a variety of areas on the court, handle the ball like a guard, make great passes, rebound like a power forward and, as we saw in the first two videos, play tremendous defense.
I did a one on one interview with Pippen toward the end of his playing career and I was particularly struck by his response to my question about how he would like to be remembered:
"A gym rat. A guy who worked very hard to make sure that his game was complete in every area and wanted to be looked at as one of the best players in the league. Even though I probably never was (the best player), because I played with a great player, but that was my approach to basketball as a whole, being a guy who came from a small college. I wanted to be the best player in the game. Even though I played with the best player in the game, it was always in my mind that if I did a little bit more, if I became a little bit more complete, people would look at me as one of the best players in the game and not just look at the fact that I did not have the offensive skills that Michael had."
In case you missed it, here is Scottie Pippen's Hall of Fame induction speech:
posted by David Friedman @ 1:37 AM