Tag: Scottie Pippen


Isiah Thomas gets shredded in new Dream Team documentary


Last night I watched a preview copy of the NBA Dream Team documentary that airs on NBA TV Wednesday, highlighting the 20th anniversary of the original (and greatest) Dream Team and their run up to and through the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Watch it. It is fantastic stuff. Great stories, a reminder of how huge this was and how it changed international basketball, and just a fun trip down memory lane.

But one thing that stuck out — everyone confirmed the long-time rumor that Pistons guard Isiah Thomas was blackballed from the team. It started with the Bulls Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, although Jordan hints there were people up the USA Basketball ladder that were more than happy to do that, and NBA exec Russ Granik basically confirmed that.

Jordan and Pippen pulled no punches.

“That was one of the stipulations put to me (on the team) that Isiah wasn’t part of the team,’’ Jordan said.

“Isiah was the general (of the Bad Boy Pistons),’’ Pippen said. “He was the guy who would yap at his teammates and say ‘Kick them on their ass. Do whatever you have to do.’ No, I didn’t want him on the Dream Team.’’

Granik pointed to an incident at the end of the Bulls/Pistons playoff series that year where Thomas led his teammates off the court before the final buzzer even sounded. That kind of sportsmanship and image was not what the NBA wanted to project to the world.

So Thomas was out in 1992. He would not be part of this documentary, either.

Seriously, watch the entire documentary. You’ll learn a lot more than this. But this part may be one of the most gripping.

Kobe Bryant explains why “I don’t take charges”

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant played along side Derek Fisher for years, one of the better guards at drawing the charge in the league for many years.

But you don’t see Kobe take them. Pretty much ever.

And he said Tuesday there is a reason for that. From the Associated Press:

“I learned from my predecessors, man,” Bryant said Tuesday. “Pippen had a (messed) up back taking charges. Bird had a (messed) up back taking charges.

“I said, `I’m not taking charges.’ I figured that (stuff) out at an early age.”

With Kobe, you know he is speaking honestly when his conversation is littered with words we need to replace with euphemisms in parenthesis on this site. He went on to say he saw Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson only take one charge each.

That quote is pretty much a Rorschach test for what you think about Kobe. If you can’t stand him you think what he said selfish and fitting with his me-first not team-first personality. If you are a Kobe fan you think that’s just smart — guys who carry the team should not be risking injury standing in front of LeBron James waiting to get run over.

I’ll say this — plenty of guys feel the way Kobe does but wouldn’t say it.

Drawing lines: Ambition vs. delusion (feat. Jordan Crawford!)


In the slim chance that you hadn’t heard, Jordan Crawford, per Michael Lee of the Washington Post, said one of those things NBA players just aren’t supposed to say:

“I don’t tell nobody, but I feel like I can be better than Michael Jordan,” Crawford said, without the slightest hint of sarcasm. “When I’m done playing, I don’t want people to say, Michael Jordan is the best player. I want that to be me. That’s how I am. That’s how I was built.”

Um, what? You realize people will look at you sideways and think you’re crazy for saying that, right?

“Yeah, I know that, I definitely know that. But I’m not settling for anything less,” Crawford said. “I feel like I’m better than him, anyway. My mom is going to say I’m better than him.”

Heresy against His Airness isn’t very well tolerated in the NBA realm, as evidenced by the fact that even hinting that the greatest player in the game today had a chance at surpassing Jordan earned Scottie Pippen a public roasting. Jordan the owner, Jordan the executive, and even Jordan the person are fair game, but to invoke his name in basketball discussions as anything but the player absolute is perceived as the highest offense against the game. Even treating his level as attainable is blasphemous; Jordan is up on his pedestal, and the basketball faithful work tirelessly to ensure his comfort and stability.

Crawford crossed that line, and given his rookie performance, that was a pretty silly decision to make. Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports contextualized Crawford’s comment with comparison (and contrast) to musicians invoking The Beatles; self-analogizing with either great is met with much guffawing, and rightfully so. But what really drives Dwyer’s point home is the distinction between the ridiculousness of Crawford’s claim and the motivation for the claim itself:

Crawford? He probably doesn’t share as humble a perspective, but what do you want the kid to say? Do you prefer he doesn’t gun for the top, on record? Do we not want his mother to think of him as the greatest thing to hit the hardwood since, well, Him?

Anyone who takes pot shots at Crawford today is just having fun with the guy, and that’s more than fine. Actually, that’s necessary. I mean, better than Jordan?

Beyond that, though? Dream big, Jordan Crawford. And let the history fall where it may.

That’s what struck me about Crawford’s quote: after being given a chance to explain, he clarifies feeling like he can better than Jordan as a want to be better than Jordan. When he’s done playing, he doesn’t want people to say that Michael Jordan is the best player. He wants that to be him. That’s how he is. That’s how he was built.

That quote is particularly engrossing because of the name invoked, but really, was Crawford’s claim all that different from John Wall saying he wants to be the best point guard ever? Wall’s goal is more sensible, sure, but would we react differently if his ambition was manifest in him saying he wanted to be better than Magic Johnson,John Stockton, or any number of historically great point guards? Talented players have taken aim for “the best to ever play the game,” (or the best to ever play their given position) publicly before, but only when such lofty goals include specific players does the internet kerfuffle begin. What is it that we think those words — “best to ever play the game,” — mean, and why do they seem to mean less when Jordan isn’t denoted specifically?

There’s obviously a difference between Crawford targeting greatness and Wall doing the same, but is that the source of the (deserved) response snark aimed at Crawford, or are we picking nits over rhetoric?

Phil Jackson backs Jerry Krause for Hall of Fame

Jerry Krause

Phil Jackson and former Bulls GM Jerry Krause are not exactly the best of friends. Their feud helped break up the Bulls dynasty. The two did not speak for more than a decade and it took Tex Winter going into the Hall of Fame — and him wanting those two to kiss and make up… or at least make up — that prompted them to even shake hands.

So it is no small thing that Jackson thinks Krause belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Jackson said as much recently, reports CSNChicago.com.

“I think it will happen,” Jackson said in a radio interview on WMVP-AM 1000. “The Hall of Fame is a strange institution. Because it’s about fame almost more than anything else.

“Jerry has made a name for himself in basketball, and it will probably be there for a long time. He was executive of the year and so forth. But the Hall is more interested in players coming in rather than executives or — matter of fact I think coaches and players probably first and then perhaps executives. So getting around to executives coming in the Hall of Fame I think will take a bit and take a concerted effort.”

Krause did not draft Michael Jordan but he did put the team around him that won rings. It was Krause that made a draft-night trade for Pippen, brought in guys like Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman, and even put Jackson in the coaching chair. He deserves credit for those six banners at the United Center.

As we have discussed before, he will be in the Hall of Fame. Eventually. It’s just a little hard to predict when with that entity.

Pippen clarifies: Someday, maybe, LeBron could be best ever

Utah Jazz v Chicago Bulls

There is nobody, anywhere, who thinks that right now LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan was. Not even Kid LeBron, Business LeBron or Wise LeBron.

Bulls’ legend Scottie Pippen stepped in a pile of trouble earlier this year suggesting LeBron could be a better player than MJ. Then Pippen backtracked. Even LeBron didn’t want a part of that comparison.

Now, Pippen is clarifying. He was at an NBA 2K12 launch party and spoke with Erin Sharoni about the comparison.

“My position is still the same,” Pippen stated. “You’re talking about a very young kid who came to the game at a very young age. Statistically, he will probably be the best player at the end of the day…based on the number of years he can get in, [he’s a] super athlete, very versatile in a lot of ways.”

Pippen added, “My comment was not meant to belittle the greatest player in the game—he has truly made his mark with his style, with his charisma, with his brand—but from a statistical standpoint, I think [LeBron] has great [potential] to be recognized as the best.”

I’ll give Pippen this much — at age 26 LeBron’s stats compare favorably with Jordan. And neither had a ring at that age, both were learning how to win on the biggest stage. That said, MJ kept improving and his career took off like a rocket that will be very hard for LeBron to keep up with.

There also is a key difference of perception. Through everything Jordan did — leaving for two years to play baseball, gambling allegations and more — he never lost his appeal with the fans. Jordan was always wildly popular, and still is. LeBron has lost that, and while with some rings I think he regains some of that popularity and acceptance, it will never be the same.

In the public’s mind, LeBron will never be Jordan.

He shouldn’t worry about it, he should just be LeBron.