Blog Entry

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

Posted on: May 27, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 12:29 pm
Scottie Pippen says that LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game. 

Posted by Matt Moore

Bulls fans are having a bad morning. They lost the Conference Finals Thursday night. They blew a double-digit lead late as LeBron James flew by them like they were standing still. And this morning,  Scottie Pippen, Bulls Hall of Famer, Jordan's running mate, said on ESPN Radio Friday morning that LeBron James, the most hated man in Bullsland? 

Pippen says he's the probably the greatest player of all time.

“Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game,” Pippen said. “But I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game because he is so potent offensively that not only can he score at will but he keeps everybody involved. You have to be on your Ps and Qs on defense. No guy on the basketball court is not a threat to score with LeBron James out there. Not only will LeBron dominate from the offensive end as well, but he’s also doing it on the defensive end which really makes him the complete package. He’s able to get in those passing lanes, shoot those gaps and create transition opportunities where he is pretty much unstoppable.”
via Pippen: “MJ Best Scorer, ‘Bron Best Player … To Ever Play The Game” « | Hang Time Blog.

Whoa, there, Scottie, let's not go nuts, here. 

The problem here is the word "is." If Scottie had just thrown in a "could end up as" or a "has a chance to be" this isn't an issue. Because everyone recognizes how great LeBron's game is. But the results haven't been there.

Fair or not, and you can make the case it's not but it doesn't change anything, we judge athletes on results more than performance. More specifically, we tier players based on performance, then judge them based on results. An example: everyone would agree LeBron James is a greater player than Robert Horry, despite Horry's impressive ring total, because Horry was never "the man" on a team. Jordan, however, is considered a greater player because he won six rings while being the man. And was totally unstoppable in nearly every situation. Stunningly, this is an area where both people who love and hate stats can agree. The numbers say Jordan is nearly untouchable. 

And the fact remains, Jordan did win those titles. He is that icon. There's a massive sense of overinflation of Jordan's accomplishments because so many writers and people in the target audience grew up in the era and Jordan was a cultural phenomenon as well as a basketball one. If you take all that away? He's still the greatest of all time. That's how big the gap is. There are other players you'd probably consider before LeBron as well. Russell. Chamberlain. Magic. Bird. Olajuwon. He's already a top ten player, but the best? No chance. Not yet.

However, Pippen does have one point. What player has made as much of an impact on both sides of the ball, and was as insolvable as LeBron? He guarded the MVP point guard into a nightmare series. He rained threes to get his team back from down 11. He's a two-time MVP. He's on the verge of winning a ring, and should he do so, there's a great chance he can win several more. Win three, why can't he win six? Then the conversation starts.

Then, not now.

For now, we have to respect history, even if Scottie's too close to the trees to see the forest. This isn't about LeBron teaming up with other great players or any sort of hypocritical, hyper-critical nonsense. It's just about the results. And until James possesses those results, Jordan remains the GOAT.  

(One last note: This is actually the best thing Pippen could have done for Chicago. Instead of focusing on how their team choked away leads multiple times in this series, how the MVP fell apart and failed them in the biggest moments, how all their regular season success resulted in a gentleman's sweep to the hated Heat, they can all rally around the greatest player in city history, remember the good times, and feel good about themselves again. This is the Pippen media version of Batman taking the blame for Harvey Dent in "The Dark Knight.")

Since: Mar 26, 2007
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:59 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

Pippen never liked Jordan that much.  He was always second fiddle to him.  Whichs shows in this statement.  Jordan would poop out LeBron like a early morning dangle.

Since: Sep 4, 2007
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:49 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

My man has a point.  Jordan never, ever lost in the Finals.  Does anyone else besides Pippen have that honor?  Bill Russell, Chamberlain, the O?  I never saw them play so I need some prospective.

Since: Dec 19, 2010
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:42 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Sep 4, 2007
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:40 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

MJ is the GOAT (Greatest of all time) period.  He's 6-0 in NBA Finals. 

Good point.  The man never lost on the biggest stage.  End of discussion.

Since: Jul 13, 2007
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:39 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

Jordan not best scorer - that would be Wilt with 50/game for a season and a c-note in a game.  Wilt, as a center, also did something that Jordan the guard never did - lead the league in assists.  Russ STILL has more rings than fingers.  And unlike Jordan, he won his before they were allowing high schoolers to play in the league.  Earv was the best all around 6'9" passing big man of all time, which BronBron will never get near his 5 rings.  Hell, Magic put up better numbers with the HIV.  And he clinched his first ring playing all 5 spots on the court and going 42-8-9, a time of the series when LeBrick LeDisappears.  Big O averaged triple double for a season, unlike both Jordan or James (see high schooler comment from above).  Doc was more fluid and highlight worthy than both Jordan and James - rock the baby dunk, reverse layup around 3 Lakers HOFers in Finals, dunking from free throw line before it was chic, with a huge 'fro.  Jordan nor LBJ are the greatest of all time - Jordan Top 10, Lebron would have been an also ran in the '60's, '70's or '80's playing against a league full of grown men.  His heart would shrink in their presence on the court.  But of course, people will hate this because history only started 10 minutes ago to 95% of the people here. 

From - a guy who hates seeing the demise of the 'fixed' NBA who does not have a horse in the race.  Do you think Stern hates the fact that the most hated player is playing the most hated owner in the Final, after ensuring Lakers-Celtics was ressuciated last few years?  Follow the money kids.

Since: Dec 7, 2009
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:34 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

Pippen seems to have forgotten that (a) Jordan was also a prodigious passer (hitting men in-stride who were cutting to new spots seemingly out of his field of view), and (b) Michael was the league's top defender several times (and near the top most other years).

Though I'm a life-long Celtics fan and my favorite player ever was Larry Bird, I'll concede without hard feelings that (as an earlier poster put it) Jordan was the GOAT (greatest of all time).

Since: Dec 8, 2008
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:27 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

What does being the GOAT have to deal with the number of championships a player wins.  This is a team sport and not everyone has good players around them, which is what you have to have in order to win championships.  I personally think that MJ and BR are both overrated because of the championships.  They both had great coaches and players to help them.  I'ld take Wilt before any of them. 

Since: May 27, 2011
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:25 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

While I agree that players shouldn't be completely judged on championships, you have to take the sport into consideration.  Baseball is an individual sport masquerading as a team sport, and a RB in football might only touch the ball 20-25 times a game.  Basketball is the sport in which one player can have the biggest impact, and that is why Jordan is considered so great.  One player can completely take over the game on both sides of the ball.

Since: Mar 3, 2011
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:14 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

MJ is the GOAT (Greatest of all time) period.  He's 6-0 in NBA Finals.  LeBron lost in an NBA Final.  Jordan made everyone around him bettter.  He's willing to give up the ball for his teammates to take the game winning shot.  LeBron bolted for the Heat because he knows he cannot win a championship with the Cavs.  I have to put Bill Russell above Kobe Bryant and LeBron in terms of GOAT.  Russell won 11 rings in 13 years with the Celtics.  Jordan won with players like BJ Armstrong, Bill Wennington, Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, Will Purdue, and Jon Paxon.  Jordan had the flu and scored 41 points against the Suns in an NBA Final.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:05 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

I'm not taking a side on this one, even though I didn't like Jordan much.  I just think the argument that championships mean so much as to an INDIVIDUAL player's greatness is a weak one.  You can't tell me that you wouldn't put Barry Sanders as one of, if not the best running back of all time.  Barry never won anything.  Ty Cobb wasn't one of the greatest baseball players in history?  Again, plenty of batting titles for Mr. Cobb but no championships.  How many quarterbacks were greater than Dan Marino?  Individual greatness is simply that, how awesome was this guy... And right now, Jordan gets the nod from me simply because he did it over an entire career.  LeBron is barely halfway thru his career.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or