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: Jan 12, 2010
Posted on: May 28, 2011 12:17 pm

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

Greatest scorer of all time??.Yes, definitely Jordan. But are u kidding me?..Complete package??..C'mon Pippen...Jordan was a LOCKDOWN defender. MJ was a steals machine, and he was 1st team all nba defense soooo many times. MJ brought it on both ends of the court..I feel like Pippen is trying to say MJ wasnt a team player, wasnt great on defense..was just a selfish scorer. Im sure he's just bitter because he had to play Robin all those years. But in all reality, LeBron is nothing compared to real.

Since: May 18, 2011
Posted on: May 28, 2011 11:40 am

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

What a laughable comparison.  Pippen is obviously still upset that he doesn't get a lot of credit for those 6 rings.  The facts are just insurmountable on this one.  Jordan was the best in the league even before he went on that 6 ring tear (let's not forget it easily would have been 8 has he not taken 2 years to try out baseball...).  Jordan was MVP 5 times.  Jordan stayed with the Bulls and helped build a championship team, he didnt go running off to find 2 other stars to help him win a title.  Jordan was far and away a better offensive player, and at least an equally good defensive player as Lebron, MJ lead the League in steals and was defensive player of the year.  The facts are just not there.  At the end of Lebron's career, will we call this the Lebron era?  I'm not so sure about that one.  Lebron played alongside players as good as him for most of his career so far (Kobe, Dirk, Wade, Garnett, Nash, Pierce, Duncan, etc...)  whereas Jordan played alongside arguably even better players (Majic, Bird, Ewing, Barkley, Olajuwan, etc...) and still was considered far and away the best of his time.  This comparison is frankly laughable.  Let Lebron play, by the end of his career I think the numbers will speak for themselves.  Lebron is not even in the Top 5, let alone Top 10, of the greats.  Match this guy up against MJ, Majic, Russell, Bird, Jabaar, Chamberlain, West, I could go on but you get the picture.  Stupid comment Scottie.

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: May 28, 2011 11:26 am

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

1. Wilt 2. Jordan 3. Kobe 4. Baylor 5. Russell

Since: Jul 27, 2009
Posted on: May 28, 2011 11:13 am

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

The word "is?"  First of all, you didn't even complete the sentece at the end of the first paragraph.  Second, Pippen said "may" two times, not "is!"  Are you even reading the quotes properly before you write and process them?  Total hack job...

Since: Oct 13, 2010
Posted on: May 28, 2011 10:53 am

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

If anyone else said this, they probably would have been laughed at. And for good reason. Jordan has won six championships, James has shown he needs the help of two other stars, one who has already led his team to a championship, to win one. Nevertheless, this is Scottie Pippen, a guy who most likely knows Jordan's play better then anyone. That is why his statements are so surprising to me. Are we missing something? I don't know, maybe Pippen just thinks he deserves more credit for the Bulls' six championships.

Since: Jan 12, 2008
Posted on: May 28, 2011 10:40 am

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

I grew up on the late 80's early 90's Pistons "Bad Boys" era . . . so I despised Michael Jordan.  And yet, despite my hatred of his preventing my Pistons from winning another title or two, I have no choice but to say that he is far and away the greatest player to have ever played basketball.  He was undefendable, despite the Pistons coming up with a specific set of defensive schemes based solely on stopping him (The Jordan Rules).  I don't understand Pippen's statements about James being a better defender.  Jordan's defense was stiffling.  He routinely led or was near the top of the league in steals.  Lest we forget that he won defensive player of the year once and was voted onto the NBA All-Defensive Team on nine occasions.  I hate to defend my most hated (respected/feared) player ever, but he would have owned LeBron James.  This argument is ridiculous.  Oh, and let's not forget the five league MVP's and six Finals MVP's.  It might be safe to say that if/when James finally gets a title . . . he might not win that MVP award because he's not even the leader of his own team.

Since: Apr 29, 2007
Posted on: May 28, 2011 10:26 am

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

Wilt was good because he was a freakishly tall for that era.  He is one of the best but not THEE best.  This isn't even an argument.  Jordan is and always will be hands down.

Since: Sep 12, 2008
Posted on: May 28, 2011 10:20 am

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

The only legacy LeBron is going to leave is his egomania is going to be pointed as the straw that shut down the NBA and in fairness to him he will have that legacy that he is looking for that no one will forget.  Does anyone think the Decision was something that the owners just are ready to blow off?  Behind the scenes the reaction is this is our game and these are our teams and no player is going to dictate how the rosters are formed.  Competitive imbalance can ruin a game (can you say baseball as how far has it fallen from the 80's in popularity), and these selfish actions by players will lead to competitive imbalance.  The owners know this and there will be a lockout, and the sticking point in the lockout will be the owner's resolve to make sure the players have to agree to a "franchise tag" or something like that to allow the small market teams a reasonable expectation of remaining competitive for the good of the league, and it is now a cause that the owner's can rally behind as an aid to help them take money away from the players.  The players lead by the example set by LeBron are not going to want to agree to that and te NBA will be gone for an extended period which will hamper the game.

So maybe in lieu of GOAT, LeBron's legacy will be know as the Guy who initiated the demise of the NBA.

Since: Jul 10, 2010
Posted on: May 28, 2011 10:08 am

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

Yeah seriously, as another poster said, Wilt Chamberlain is the best. Jordan second. James maybe in the top 20 (for now).

Since: Apr 10, 2011
Posted on: May 28, 2011 9:44 am

Pippen: LeBron may be the GOAT

I agree with Matt Moore 100%, until Lebron gets his number near MJs, he is not the best ever....

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