Every once in a while, there’s an athlete who stands above all others. Scottie Pippen, so dominant during the 80’s and early 90’s, is one of those players. But, is he better than the other two most famous Bulls, Michael Jordan and James? You decide.
Of course, Grantland chose to run with this headline, but it’s actually a solid headline that both has a proven track record of making its point and focusing on an actual argument. Using this headline, the author of this post can successfully make the argument that Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen are better basketball players than LeBron James.
LeBron James has been compared to Michael Jordan for years in an ongoing (and pointless) debate about who is the best player in NBA history. But if you ask Dennis Rodman, not only does he not believe LeBron is one of the two best players of all time, he doesn’t even believe James, whose game he once called too easy, could have been one of the two best players of the 1990s. According to Rodman, No. 1 belongs to Jordan and No. 2 to the man who helped MJ win those six titles with the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen.
While some people don’t prefer LeBron over Jordan in GOAT discussions, most are generally willing to call him a great player or praise his play in some way. After all, James is a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA MVP. He is averaging 27.4 points, 7.4 assists and 7.4 rebounds in his career. But in an interview on the YouTube channel Overtime, Rodman was coy when asked if he could get LeBron in his prime.
I’d lock him up. LeBron is so easy to beat. It’s pretty damn easy to play. It has no movement. The only movement it has is a straight line down. It has no movement. Where’s he going?
His game is too easy. It’s just a big… You know, 260… 6’8″, 6’9″, whatever. It’s the only thing he has. Basically.
Dennis Rodman on LeBron James
Rodman also said that Pippen would have knocked James out before he could even get to Rodman, one of the many compliments he has given to his former rival and teammate over the years.
Rodman said Pippen, not LeBron, would have been the second best player of the 1990s after Michael Jordan
(left to right) Scotty Pippen; Dennis Rodman; LeBron James | Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Haute Living; Rich Polk/Getty Images for Politicon; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
In another interview with ESPN’s Jackie McMullan during last year’s The Last Dance, Rodman defended Pippen, who was somewhat roughed up during the documentary, and said only good things about the seven-time NBA star.
Rodman said that while Larry Bird was considered the ultimate forward of his time, he could not play at as many positions as Pippen. He said Scotty has revolutionized the point guard position that LeBron has played for many, many years because he likes to control the ball. Rodman noted that Pippen could shoot, pass, rebound and defend well. That’s why he says Scotty would have been the second-best player in the NBA in the ’90s, even if James had played then.
If LeBron had played in the ’90s, I’d still say Scotty Pippen was the second-best player after Michael [Jordan].
Dennis Rodman on Scottie Pippen, LeBron James and Michael Jordan
But his praise for Pippen didn’t stop there.
Aside from the fact that Pippen would still be the second-best player of the 1990s even if LeBron had played in that era, Rodman said Scotty should be considered one of the top two or three players in NBA history, which is certainly high praise for anyone, not to mention that he is a Hall of Fame member and probably the best rebounder and defender of all time.
Rodman said he began to respect Pippen even before he joined the Bulls, having faced him numerous times in epic games between the Bulls and Pistons in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He says Pippen was the best player in the world when Jordan took time off to pursue a baseball career, and that Scotty was the best teammate he ever had. That’s no mean feat considering the list of Hall of Fame players Worm has played with over the years, which apparently includes Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, in addition to Jordan.
Rodman says Pippen was often overlooked and underestimated because he was too quiet and always standing next to Michael Jordan.
But as we’ve all heard lately, Pippen is tired of being silenced, tired of being overlooked or misunderstood, as he has been in recent weeks with accusations against Jordan, Phil Jackson and many others. And we’ll have more information very soon, as his memoir Unexpectedly will be released in November. It will be very interesting to hear Rodman’s comments on the book when it comes out, and it will certainly be interesting to read what Pippen thinks of Rodman.
Statistics provided by Basketball Reference
COMPARED TO: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen legally tackled Dennis Rodman during an epic Bulls-Lakers game with a big moment for Kobe Bryant
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