Phil Jackson reminisces about Scottie Pippen (and his defense)

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Thumbnail image for pippen_Ewing.jpgPhil Jackson got put on the radio — ESPN 1000 Radio in Chicago — with Scottie Pippen, and he sounded like a coach.

We fans have our memories of Pippen the player, the dramatic dunks and the big games. The rings. But Jackson thinks of Pippen the defensive leader.
 

The other thing that I remember probably most about Scottie was a sequence which he had to direct the defense. Scottie was our voice on defense. He had, as you can tell, a tremendous voice. He has a deep resonating voice that could be heard on the court. And he also had the ability to talk to his teammates, and send them and direct them. But we had to trap Stockton when he got over half court, and try to get the ball out of his hands. And he had to come from the farthest place on the court to trap with either Steve Kerr if he was guarding Stockton, or Ronnie Harper if he was guarding Stockton, so we could get the ball out of his hands. And then he had to get back to the other side of the court once Stockton got the ball out of his hands. I can remember him calling and directing the team during those situations. Those are the things that made Scottie not only a great player, but also a great team leader that was so important to our basketball club….

“Well, you know, Scottie was like the utility defender. Whoever we needed between one and three to defend against, we used Scottie. Although we had a variety of guys, Johnny Bach our assistant coach used to call him Doberman. Send the Dobermans out there to get him. He and Michael would go out there and attack a player on the defensive end of the court, which was always such a good asset for a basketball club to be aggressive defensively…

“Well, one of the ways we got competitive action on the court was to put the [Jordan and Pippen] on different teams and let them elevate the game in practice a little bit. We would do that maybe once a month or twice a month just to get the competitive action on the court.

Just like a coach to remember practice. But it tells a lot.
 

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: