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The Best Second Banana Who Ever Lived - Scottie Pippen

I realized in reading Kenny's phenomenal post about Shawn Kemp yesterday is that we're missing some very key pieces in these playoffs. I believe it's the reason that some of these teams are getting destroyed in the playoffs like when Antoine decided not to help Kenny and the U-Dubb basketball team in The 6th Man because they were selfish. Yeah I said it, selfish. It takes supernatural ability to be able to sacrifice for the greater good of the team, and it's become quite clear that some players just haven't figured that out yet (I'm looking at you Vince Carter and Amare Stoudemire). Thus we're going to have sweeps in the conference finals, because the two winning teams have figured this out, and the losing teams are still scratching their heads.

Scottie Pippen was the epitome of doing all the "other things" that the Bulls teams needed to do, and its the reason that some teams that have all the talent in the world will always fail, because they don't have someone in the Pippen mold.

We remember Scottie Pippen for a multitude of things, we remember him always defending the best players on the court (regardless if they were the point guard or the power forward), we remember him for being the primary ball handler in Phil Jackson's triangle offense (which is one of the biggest secrets for the triangle, you do not need a point guard, you need shooters), and we remember him for his tendency to be ruthless for stretches of a game. Be it him dunking on Ewing and then standing over him (classic moment), or just talking as much trash as humanly possible (one of the most forgotten things about that Bulls team was how much MJ and Pip would dish it out) and defeating their opponents before the game was started.

However, for all the things that Pippen did, the biggest thing that came out of all of that is he made Michael Jordan's life a lot easier. Its the reason why the Lakers had Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest, its the reason the Spurs had Bruce Bowen, and its the reason why Dennis Johnson was on the Celtics. The sacrifice is taken by someone else so the superstar can be the superstar. The superstar can focus on being scoring the ball, playing weakside defense (which is still vitally important), and resting up when he can. Ask LeBron if he had ANYONE on his team that was capable of doing this for him.

In Pippen's 6 championship seasons he averaged 20/7/7 a game. He basically averages as many rebounds as Amare Stoudemire and as many assists as Derrick Rose. However, when Jordan retired (the first time) and gave Pippen a chance to be a lead dog, he was phenomenal. Going up to the 22/8/5 per game. Yes, his one knock was that he wouldn't go in the game because Phil Jackson drew up a play for Toni Kukoc in the 1994 playoffs instead of Scottie. Yes, that was bad. However, I'm not that mad at him for that, he earned that right to take the last shot, he's been there for 6 years and was the second banana, was finally the lead dog and was asked to defer to Kukoc? Phil would never do that to Jordan, so why would he do it to Scottie? Not saying anyone's wrong here but Scottie, but I understand.

Plus, there's something about Pippen that we never truly appreciated. Pippen saw what was real in every situation he was in. When he was in Chicago, he said that when we look back and realize that he helped Jordan lead the league in scoring and win those championships, he was honored to be a part of that. When he was in Houston, and raked Charles Barkley over the coals for being out of shape, who else would do that? When he was in Portland he managed the most dysfunctional team maybe in NBA history to the brink of greatness before Kobe to Shaq alley-oop happened. In the words of Reggie Jackson, "He was the straw that stirred the drink." He was the catalyst for making things right, or at least pushing them in the right direction.

One day, teams like Phoenix, Orlando, and other very good but never great teams will figure this out. The Lakers and Celtics have, that's why they win championships. The quicker teams figure it, the closer they'll get to that almighty title. That's why Pip got 6 rings.


P.S. If you missed our live show, you can download our weekly podcast of "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" on the ETSF Radio Network, as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan!


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