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: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: May 28, 2011 6:19 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

...Jordan was a LOCKDOWN defender.
This is pure opinion.  And in mine, Jordan was an excellent defender but greatly overrated.  It was Pippen and Rodman always asked to cover the other team's best scorer.  Jordan was more of a help defender though he did use his size to his advantage.  Great scorers who exhibit ANY willingness and ability on defense tend to be overhyped on that end of the floor.  Kobe has had no business being selected all-defense 11 times and Jordan wasn't the "lockdown" defender he's been made out to be.   

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: May 28, 2011 5:19 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

The only problem I have with what Pippen said is that I think  Kobe is the best pure scorer of all time... Much as I can't stand him, nobody creates his own shot, at will, like Mr. Bryant, who ALSO should be in the "greatest player of all time" conversation.

I will agree that these things can't be known until LeBron and Kobe's careers are over, but taking that into account, on the frontside of any argument-- Jordan wasn't NBA ready out of High School, like James and Bryant.

And Pippen is right about another point--  Jordan was the best at dominating a game...  But he wasn't the best at helping his teammates play their best, too.  The rest of the Bulls main job was to rebound and keep their own defender away from the ball.

Jordan is the best to every FINISH a career, period.  But both Kobe and LeBron have the opportunity to dethrone him.

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: May 28, 2011 3:48 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

Normally I stay out of these who is better than who arguments, but this on is ridiculous. Jordan currently is the best player to have played for so many different reasons. With that being said, the championship argument is a weak argument at best, as is the team talent argument.

It's amazing how many posters on this board criticize LeBron for leaving Cleveland and going to Miami and teaming up with Wade and Bosh, and act like Jordan was the only player that the Bulls had that was worth anything.  Jordan was actually very open about the lack of talent that he was surrounded by early in his career, but unlike the Cavs, the Bulls were actually able to do something about it. To think that Jordan would have won 6 championships without playing with guys like Pippen or Rodman is insane. He might have pulled off one or two by himself (doubtful), playing with Pippen and Grant definitely allowed the first three-peat and Pippen and Rodman (Two NBA Hall-of-Famers) definitely allowed the second three-peat. More importantly, there is a strong chance that Jordan might not have played the second half of his career in Chicago if the Bulls had not ben able to build a team through the draft like they did. While teams didn't use to build through free agency, it unfortunately has become more common to do so as the game has evolved.

Anyone that wants to claim that Pippen didn't do anything without Jordan should reverse that question as well. Would Pippen have been as good had he not played with Jordan? No. Would Jordan have been as good without Pippen? Maybe. While Jordan still would have had a HOF type career, it is hard to argue that Pippen didn't contribute to Jordan's success. You couldn't focus on one or the other without getting burned. It was Jordan's team no doubt, but Pippen was definitely one of the five best players in the league at that time, and might be the best SF to ever play the game. Did Pippen let the chip get to big on his shoulder when he refused to play after not getting the nod in Jordan's absence? Of course. However, to say that Pippen didn't do anything without Jordan is insane. Not to mention that using his performance in Portland or Houston as your basis of his caliber of play holds about as much weight as saying Shaq is a mediocre center based on they way he played at Phoenix, Cleveland, or Boston. Point is that Jordan needed a strong #2 to make that final push, and Pippen fit that role perfectly. Sorry, but Pippen would have been a HOF player with or without Jordan; probably just not a first ballot HOF.

Back to the topic at hand is that LeBron very well could end up having an MJ like career, but it won't be until the end of his career that we can judge his place in the GOAT discussion. While the way he left Cleveland was horribly obnoxious, which I feel he realized after the fact, him going to Miami doesn't/won't discredit his accomplishments no matter what his haters want to believe. While it did appear that the team was Wade's early in the season, any unbiased fan could tell that LeBron took over the team as the season progressed. In my mind, the LeBron/Wade/Bosh pairing is very similar to the caliber of team Jordan was given for their final three-peat with MJ/Pippen/Rodman or Grant. While LeBron did leave to pair up with other stars and MJ was lucky enough that the Bulls brought him talent (Something the Cavaliers never did for LeBron), they both were/are surrounded by all-stars that will greatly contribute to their team accomplishments; i.e. championships.   

Oh, and Kobe never won a championship by himself either. It took a strong #2 like Shaq or Gasol for him to win his five. He flirted at one point with leaving the Lakers for the Clippers. People like to compare him to Jordan as one of the greatest shooters, yet Kobe has only won the scoring title once. I fail to see what is so clearly more elite about him than LeBron. All of this coming from a seriously depressed Bulls fan.

Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: May 28, 2011 3:36 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

I still think the count is 6-0 in favor of MJ.  If I had to take a guy on my team first it'd be MJ 10x over.  There's no comparison.  I grew up as a Knick fan and never got to enjoy MJ primarily because I knew that there was no way my Knicks were getting passed the Bulls.  Every good/great team we had, it didn't matter.  In the end it was always MJ hitting the big shot to close it out, or keep it out of reach.  LeBron shows neither the leadership, nor the talent to ever be considered great.  I think the biggest reason LeBron finds himself a goat often is that he's obtained a reputation, from ignorant folks like Pippen, prior to any accomplishments.  He hasn't been overly fantastic in this playoff series, allowed his Cavaliers to get swept the last time they were in the finals....everything just points to him not being a great leader and for you to be considered the greatest, when guys like Michael Jordan always carried their team, is baffling.  The fact the guy had to abandon ship and surround himself with an All Star team shows that he realizes he's not nearly good enough to win it all himself.  Jordan did that 6 times with role players.  Scottie Pippen owes his entire career to Jordan, without him, on another team, Pippen would be another ordinary forward averaging 15 a game

Since: May 28, 2011
Posted on: May 28, 2011 3:13 pm

Pippen/Lebron Lovers - please stop the nonsense

There is no comparison between MJ and Queen Lebron -- none whatsover so please stop the nonsense and let's talk facts:

The 6 titles to 0 should end the conversation....period. 

But just in case you want to proceed.......offense, defense, it doesn't matter as the conclusion is the same.  Jordan is and always will be the best to have played the game. Jordan never quit on his team, Jordan did not leave his team to buy a championship, Jordan even pleased his fans by participating in Slam Dunk Contests (some of the best dunks of all time).  Lebron has one solid series against a young team and now the praise and comparisons begin......where were all you lovebirds the last 7 years?  Lebron is good, in fact damn good......almost great, but he has proven nothing other than he is high maintenance prima donna.....'his selection show'....what a disgrace.  Some are even questioning Jordan's defense, which is almost comical.  How many defensive player of the year awards does Lebron have.....anyone?  Steals Leader?  Keep in mind -- yes he beat the bulls, but he has yet to win a championship ..... the Mavs are hungry and still bitter from 2006, so please be careful.  All you Miami bandwagoners and Lebron lovers, please do a little reflecting before putting your fingers to the keyboard: 

Michael Jordan -- few highlights below should be enough, but see this to rest the case if needed:

  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Class of 2009
  • 6-time : 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998 (all with Chicago Bulls)
  • 5-time : 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998<sup id="cite_ref-0" class="reference"></sup><sup id="cite_ref-1" class="reference"></sup>
  • 10-time scoring champion: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998<sup id="cite_ref-2" class="reference"></sup>
  • 3-time steals leader: 1988, 1990, 1993
  • 3-time minutes leader: 1987, 1988, 1989
  • 14-time : 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003<sup id="cite_ref-jordami01_3-0" class="reference"></sup>
  • 3-time : 1988, 1996, 1998<sup id="cite_ref-4" class="reference"></sup>
  • 6-time : 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998<sup id="cite_ref-5" class="reference"></sup>
  • 1-time : 1987-88<sup id="cite_ref-6" class="reference"></sup>
  • 11-time selection:
  • First team: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998<sup id="cite_ref-allnba_a_7-0" class="reference"></sup><sup id="cite_ref-allnba_b_8-0" class="reference"></sup>
  • Second team: 1985<sup id="cite_ref-allnba_a_7-1" class="reference"></sup><sup id="cite_ref-allnba_b_8-1" class="reference"></sup>
  • 9-time selection:
  • First team: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998<sup id="cite_ref-alldef_a_9-0" class="reference"></sup><sup id="cite_ref-alldef_b_10-0" class="reference"></sup>
  • Seasons leading the league in scoring: 10 (—, —)

    Consecutive seasons leading the league in scoring: 7 (—)

Since: Jul 6, 2008
Posted on: May 28, 2011 2:46 pm

The only thing we are missing is jeakousy

In today's Chicago papers Horace Grant was quoted as saying he totally disagrees with Scottie. Says that even though Scottie and Horace butted heads with MJ a lot that doesn't change how great MJ was compared to everyone else.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: May 28, 2011 1:43 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

There is no doubt that Wilt was an incredible player.  Lets not forget that he was a 7 footer when other centers were 6' 7''.  I have to take this into account when suggesting someone was the GOAT.

To me its not even close.  Jordan was, Jordan is, and Jordan will be.  

If Wilt were dominating the likes of Russell, Abdul Jabbar, Shaq, Robinson, etc...we can talk.  He dominated midgets comparatively. 

Since: Sep 1, 2007
Posted on: May 28, 2011 1:10 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

Sounds like some sour grapes from Scottie. Is he really that bitter that Jordan didnt share the ball enough, or about playing second fiddle? What a douchey thing to say.   Just speculating here but since Scottie is now broke despite making 100 million dollars...maybe he asked MJ for a loan and like the ball, Jordan wasnt sharing!

Since: Jan 30, 2011
Posted on: May 28, 2011 12:41 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: May 28, 2011 12:32 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

LeBron the GOAT? That's the funniest thing I've ever heard.

Wake me up when LeBron has 6 rings, a bucket load of clutch NBA finals performances, 15,000 more points and has been playing like he's now playing for another 7 years, and then we'll talk.

Until then, he's  a great player who has had half a great statistical individual career.

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