Scottie Pippen was a fantastic player. Scottie Pippen deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, as will formally happen next week. Pippen deserves the accolades that will come his way.
But it’s hard to read what Bulls owner Jerry Riesndorf said about Pippen to Bulls.com without feeling there is another slight toward Michael Jordan in there.
“Six championships that wouldn’t have been won without Scottie,” Reinsdorf said when asked what comes to mind when he recalls Pippen’s career. “Michael couldn’t have done it by himself. The rest of the players and Michael would not have been enough. It took Scottie to put us over the top those six times.”
“A lot of people liked to talk about Scottie as being Batman’s Robin or the Lone Ranger’s Tonto,” said Reinsdorf during a recent interview at the Berto Center. “I never thought that was the case and I liked to think of them as 1 and 1A. They were very, very close.”
Pippen was good, but they were not “very, very close” in terms of what they meant to the franchise. This was Jordan’s team. Pippen was very good, no doubt, but make no mistake about who was the Bull (so to speak).
Maybe I’m reading something into this that isn’t there. But Riensdorf and former GM Jerry Krause have always come off as playing down what Jordan meant to the franchise. No doubt Jordan could not have done it alone and had some nice talent around him. But let’s not put the cart before the horse here.
The story is a fun reminder of how far Pippen had to come. The Bulls picked Pippen out of the crowd early from his NAIA school but by the time of the draft to trade Olden Polynice and future considerations to get him. From there Pippen’s transition from Central Arkansas to the NBA was not totally smooth. Overall it’s a reminder that Pippen did get there, leaping into the public consciousness when he defended Magic Johnson starting in Game 2 of the 1991 NBA finals.
Pippen was a great player. He deserves to be in the Hall. But let’s hope this wasn’t another slight at MJ.