What can I say about Scottie Pippen? He was the best all-around ballplayer I’ve ever seen. The way he excelled at so many aspects of the game, especially that tenacious defense, was simply amazing. With Pippen’s recent induction into the Hall of Fame, I thought it’d be a fitting time to share my thoughts about the unlikely superstar from Arkansas.
I remember an interview with Bob Costas that I saw when I was growing up, in which Costas said he carried a baseball card of Mickey Mantle in his wallet because of how much Mantle inspired him. At the time, I thought that was really corny. Well, fast-forward to today and I am a man in his thirties with a Scottie Pippen USA Dream Team card in my wallet! Pippen truly inspired me. During his prime, when the Bulls were winning a six-pack of championships, I was either in high school, in college, or just starting my adult life. To me, Pip meant more than just a great player. He represents a fun, wonderful time in my life. Nothing was better than watching those rock-star type Bulls clubs as a young man with my friends, my sister, and my grandfather.
As far as Scottie’s on the court prowess, I believe he is one of the most underrated athletes in the history of sports. He should have been league MVP in 1994, he should have won a Finals MVP too, but as we know, politics often plays a part in those types of decisions. This man was all over the place. He did what needed to be done. He could score, pass, rebound, and most of all shut down the other team’s top player every single night. My favorite Bulls team, other than the 72-win 1996 squad, was the 1994 Jordan-less club led by Scottie. They didn’t win it all (although they should have, Mr. Hollins), but they were so tough, so gritty, so fun….and Pippen was the leader. He stuck things out during that tough two year stretch and rose to the occasion to capture 3-more rings when Mike returned and Dennis and the other pieces were added.
I remained a Bulls fan when Pip left the Windy City, but I must say I was rooting for the Rockets and Blazers as well when he played for those franchises. I was so happy when Chicago brought Scottie back for his final year. I think his presence and tutelage contributed to the success of the squad years afterward as they made several playoff appearances.
Now that Scottie is enshrined in Springfield, an honor he deserves as much as anyone, I want to say thanks to him. The way he played on the court should serve as a reminder to anyone, in any field, exactly how to do things the right way.
Thank you Scottie for all you did, for being the straw that stirred the Bulls drink, and for conducting yourself with class and integrity.
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