HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Oh, Scottie Pippen. You knew this was going to eventually happen as soon as you opened that can of worms.
Pippen, of course, stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy earlier in the playoffs when he offered his opinion that Michael Jordan was the greatest scorer of all time, but that LeBron James might become the greatest player ever.
First Magic Johnson and then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and then Oscar Robertson, among others, questioned Pippen’s judgment in making such a pronouncement.
But now the plain-spoken, always-provocative Stan Van Gundy is questioning Pippen’s credentials as a player.
Speaking with the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi on his “Open Mike” radio show, the Magic coach pulled no punches:
“I have always wondered, as good as Scottie Pippen was, would he have been considered a star if he hadn’t played with Jordan and had to carry a team on his own,” Van Gundy explained. “We’ll never know, but my point is that sometimes we make the determination after the fact. In other words, after Chicago won championships, we branded Pippen a star.”
Here are a few things for Stan and the rest of us to consider:
Jordan retired before the 1993-94 season, and in his absence, Pippen emerged from M.J.’s shadow. That year, he earned All-Star Game MVP honors and led the Bulls in scoring, assists, blocks and the entire league in steals, averaging 22 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.9 steals, 1.9 three-pointers, and 0.8 blocks per game, while shooting 49.1% from the field and a career-best 32% from the 3-point line. For his efforts, he earned the first of three straight All-NBA First Team nods, and he finished third in the MVP voting. The Bulls finished the season with 55 wins, only two fewer than the year before.
So was Pippen everything that the Hall Fame voters cracked him up to be? Or was he just one more member of M.J.’s chorus like Bill Wennington and Jud Buechler?
Is Stan Van right? What’s the verdict?