Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond The Box Score...Pippen As Important As Jordan?

Let’s get this out of  the way. Michael “Air” Jordan is a better player than Scottie Pippen. Let me say it one more time, Michael “Air” Jordan is a better player than Scottie Pippen, individually. This article is not about individual talent. It is about the varieties of players’ games to ultimately bring the team success. Since the Bulls are my primary focus these days, these two players would be as good as any to prove a point. Before there was a “Big Three”, there was a “Dynamic Duo”. These two players were the blueprint on how teams were built-in the 90’s. After Jordan and Pippen found success, they were followed up by Kobe and Shaq, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon in between the three-peats in Houston and Tim Duncan and David Robinson in San Antonio. The only champs in recent times that won with the team ball aspect without any superstars was the Detroit Pistons in the 2003-04 season. Michael Jordan catapulted the NBA to where it is today, basically all of us, myself included owe this man a debt of gratitude. But what about the man this website is named after. Does he deserve the same gratitude?

Together, Jordan and Pippen headed up the last real dynasty in the NBA capturing six championships in eight years. They possibly could have had more if, A) Jordan doesn’t chase his baseball team and B) Jerry Krause didn’t have something to prove with his “Organization wins championships” theory. But by themselves on other teams they won none. Michael failed to even make the playoffs in Washington and Scottie failed in Chicago, Houston and Portland.  These two players were very different, however they both needed each other’s strengths to be successful. Michael was the undisputed leader of the team and the best player. He went out scored 30 points or more per night and when it was winning time, he carried the Bulls to victory. However, it was Scottie Pippen who did the little things like being the lockdown defender, being the support system that Jordan needed during the championship years. Jordan in his early days could score when he was in the mood. Let’s just say he was very moody in those days. However, the Bulls always got beat down in the playoffs by the Celtics and the Pistons. Everyone remembers the 63 points Jordan put up in the Boston Garden, not everyone remembers the Bulls lost 137-135. When Pippen’s game grew and he became a force the Bulls won. Jordan got all the accolades, regular season MVP’s, Finals MVP’s and commercials, but Pippen was the steadying force that allowed such things to happen.

There has been an explosion of scoring as of late. It all started with Kevin Durant aka “The Slim Reaper” (That is the greatest nickname ever by the way) when he dropped 54 points a couple of weeks back. LeBron makes a comment that he is sometimes jealous of how many shots Durant gets and watch out for what he does in the next game. Then the flood gates opened up last week. Marcus Thornton of the Sacramento Kings scores 42. LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trailblazers gets snubbed for an All-Star start, then goes out and scores 44 points including his team’s last 15 points in a win on Thursday. On Friday, Carmelo Anthony got into a “zone” and  smoked the Bobcats like a pack of “Kool” cigarettes for 62 points for New York. Then Saturday night, Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors went off for 51 points tying a franchise record set by Vince Carter.

Over the last week, between Marcus Thornton, LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony and Terrence Ross, guess who is playing for a  good team? If you picked Aldridge, two points  for you. Thornton had been on the trading block for months, Carmelo is looking for a back door out of New York and Terrence Ross doesn’t even average ten points a game. What does  this tell us? There is more to basketball than scoring. Furthermore, Thornton’s Kings lost to the Pacers and Ross’ Raptors lost to the Clippers. The most interesting thing was the comment Clippers coach Doc Rivers made after the game. He mentioned that Ross had a great game but the two shooting guards for the Clippers Jamal Crawford who scored 37 points and J.J. Redick who had 18 points COMBINED for 55 points so the Clippers were plus four in that category. That was the inspiration for this article. Have we forgotten how to play basketball?

The quality of basketball has eroded in the last 30  years. Gone are days of Magic, Bird and Isiah who worked on all aspects of the game and added to their repertoire. All they cared about was winning championships. Legacies were built on that and the respect of their peers. With the early entries into the NBA, the period when high-school players could enter the draft and AAU basketball, it is now a microwave type of league. The only thing young players want to do is dunk on somebody or shoot 25 footers so they can get on Sports Center. Everyone seems to think if you put up huge numbers, automatically you can play. Magic Johnson never averaged more than 24 points in a season, but he is considered the greatest point guard ever. Why because he ran the Lakers “Showtime” offense with efficiency averaging 11 assists. Larry Bird averaged 24 points a game and ten rebounds. The guy couldn’t jump over your Sunday newspaper, But he was the best player in Boston. Isiah had that street game that he brought to the NBA. But when he stopped scoring as much and embraced a defensive mindset, The Pistons won championships. Do you know what else these guys had in common? Their respective teams took ALL of the titles in the 80’s. Plus, they were leaders in the locker room. Ask Melo how the locker room is in New York since he took it over. The next time you look at the Knicks box score win or lose, check out Carmelo’s point total. If it’s over 25 points, he gets his name in the paper so to speak. He does not care about winning like these guys before him. Are you paying attention Bulls Fans?

Fans are starting to pay attention to the stats instead of the big picture. Kevin Durant will win the scoring title for as long as he feels like it. Lebron will never average more points than Durant because of the system he plays in Miami. Lebron James has figured out a more efficient way of playing basketball. Kevin Durant has not figured it out yet. He’s got scoring titles, but Lebron’s got rings. What do you think? Does scoring make you a good ballplayer? Get on Facebook Pippen Ain’t Easy or leave a comment below and tell us what you think.


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