Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pippen honor is overkill

By John McMullen

A statue honoring Scottie Pippen?

My, how our hero worship has fallen.

Before you start firing off the hate mail, understand I, like most NBA observers, loved Pippen's game.

He was the consummate "Robin" to the ultimate "Batman" in Michael Jordan. He was the best "Iceman," M.J.'s "Maverick" could ever ask for. But let's be honest, at the end of the day, Pippen was a sidekick.

A sidekick that will be forever be displayed permanently in the United Center when the Bulls unveil a bronze statue of Pippen toward the end of the 2010-11 season.

It's not Pippen's fault. In fact, the honor is probably more indicative of just how mediocre the Bulls were before and after the Jordan-era. It's not like everyone was clamoring for that Bob Love statue.

Pippen was the ultimate No. 2 option to basketball's best-ever No. 1. He entered the league as an athlete with a lot of holes in his offensive game. When he was done, Pippen had turned himself into a versatile player that could play four different positions and was a more than capable scorer. He was also the best perimeter defender of his era and used his freakish length to torture players in the open floor.

With Pippen as his lead running mate, Jordan was able to secure six championships for the Windy City along with six NBA Finals MVPs for himself.

Make no mistake, Pippen deserved his seven All-Star nods and his eight appearances on the NBA's all-defensive team. He certainly earned his six championship rings and his gold medal with the 1992 Barcelona Dream Team.

I'll even buy the fact that he was a Hall-Of-Famer, as he was officially enshrined on Aug. 13 in a class that included Karl Malone and the late Dennis Johnson.

But, that's where it should stop. Pippen belonged nowhere near the NBA's 50th Anniversary Team. In fact, if you pull up that 1996 list of the NBA's top 50 players, it looks like a game of "Which one doesn't belong" with Pippen sticking out like the sore thumb among a list of legends.

And he's certainly not the type of player that deserves Mount Rushmore-type treatment.

Some detractors have been far more critical than me.

You've probably heard the jokes by now...

What famous Pippen moment do you think will get immortalized? Pippen sitting on the bench, refusing to enter the game?

When are the other Jordan-era role players, like B.J. Armstrong, Steve Kerr, John Paxson, Dennis Rodman and Horace Grant earmarked for Madison Street?

That's not to say Scottie doesn't have a legacy.

In today's NBA, almost every league executive looks at the Jordan-Pippen Bulls as the blueprint for success. You need the superstar but you also need the complementary piece.

Kobe couldn't win without Shaq, until Pau Gasol came along. Shaq couldn't win without Kobe unless he was playing with Dwyane Wade, and LeBron fled Cleveland because Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry were never able to get him a competent co- star.

Pippen wan an important part of NBA history. Let's just not play revisionist history and blow his place in the game out of proportion.

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