Saturday, December 10, 2005

It's About Bloody Time

Finally, the Chicago Bulls acknowledged the accomplishments of former player Scottie Pippen. On Friday night, the team retired the jersey of number 33, who won six NBA championships with the Bulls, to go along with his two Olympic medals, seven All-Star appearances, and the tag of one of the NBA's Fifty Greatest Players. It is a testament to the ill will that built up between Pippen and the Bulls that it has taken this long to acknowledge his accomplishments. So too is the fact that both Phil Jackson and former GM and meglomaniac Jerry Krause have had banners hanging in the rafters longer than the Bull's second greatest player.

Pippen will fortunately, and unfortunately, always be remembered for two things. The first is that he won six championships, all alongside Michael Jordan. Many point out that Pippen never won a championship without Jordan by his side. What is often forgotten is that Jordan never won without Pippen, either. There is no doubt that Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, but anybody who watches the Lakers and Kobe Bryant consistently can tell you that one great player does not a championship team make. Pippen holds numerous offensive records, and ranks in the Top 50 All-Time for scoring, but it was his relentless defence that set him above almost every player who ever played the game, including Jordan. Pippen was a member of the NBA All-Defensive team from 1991-2000, including a eight year run from 1992-2000 on the First Team. In fact, he and Jordan made the All-Defensive and Offensive First Team together in1995-96, an accomplishment never repeated by two teammates.

The second thing Pippen will always be remembered for is his refusal to reenter the 1994 playoff game against the Knicks, with 1.8 seconds left on the clock and the Bulls down, because Jackson drew up the final shot for Toni Kukoc, and not him. Pippen has acknowledged that this was a failure on his part, and his coach and teammates seem to have forgiven him. I have always found it interesting that people have held this decision against Pippen, while giving Michael Jordan a free ride for retiring and attempting to play professional baseball from 1993-1995.

For anyone wishing to read more about Pippen and the Bulls, I highly recommend Playing For Keeps; The World Michael Jordan Made, by David Halberstam. Anyone who read it will get the reference/inside joke/insult that Phil Jackson makes about Jerry Krause and Earl Monroe in the above-linked ESPN article. As well, Simmons has a great article about Pippen, which is unfortunately behind the Insider wall. Hopefully, he will re-post it on his main page.


At 12:37 AM, Blogger sacamano said...

This has nothing to do with your post, but I figure you folks would, at least, also recognize the genius of bringing Gene Keady to the Raptors.

That is all. We now return to regular programming.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

We can't catch it all, dude. You are more than welcome to guest post if you want. Hell, I will add you to the roster if you want. We are a little short on Lenny Bias/Reggie Lewis references.

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Given that Scottie Pippen only retired 14 months ago, I don't think the Bulls waited too long to retire his number. Most All-Stars have their jerseys retired within the first couple of years after their retirement, so this date for Pippen seems to fit right in.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...


They placed a banner of Jerry Krause up before him. Jerry Krause.


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