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Reinsdorf: Six Bulls titles would not have happened without Pippen

Aug 6, 2010, 9:02 PM EDT

pippen_Ewing.jpgScottie Pippen was a fantastic player. Scottie Pippen deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, as will formally happen next week. Pippen deserves the accolades that will come his way.

But it’s hard to read what Bulls owner Jerry Riesndorf said about Pippen to without feeling there is another slight toward Michael Jordan in there.

“Six championships that wouldn’t have been won without Scottie,” Reinsdorf said when asked what comes to mind when he recalls Pippen’s career. “Michael couldn’t have done it by himself. The rest of the players and Michael would not have been enough. It took Scottie to put us over the top those six times.”

“A lot of people liked to talk about Scottie as being Batman’s Robin or the Lone Ranger’s Tonto,” said Reinsdorf during a recent interview at the Berto Center. “I never thought that was the case and I liked to think of them as 1 and 1A. They were very, very close.”

Pippen was good, but they were not “very, very close” in terms of what they meant to the franchise. This was Jordan’s team. Pippen was very good, no doubt, but make no mistake about who was the Bull (so to speak).

Maybe I’m reading something into this that isn’t there. But Riensdorf and former GM Jerry Krause have always come off as playing down what Jordan meant to the franchise. No doubt Jordan could not have done it alone and had some nice talent around him. But let’s not put the cart before the horse here.

The story is a fun reminder of how far Pippen had to come. The Bulls picked Pippen out of the crowd early from his NAIA school but by the time of the draft to trade Olden Polynice and future considerations to get him. From there Pippen’s transition from Central Arkansas to the NBA was not totally smooth. Overall it’s a reminder that Pippen did get there, leaping into the public consciousness when he defended Magic Johnson starting in Game 2 of the 1991 NBA finals.

Pippen was a great player. He deserves to be in the Hall. But let’s hope this wasn’t another slight at MJ.

  1. deathday - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:27 PM

    Jordan joined the bulls in 1984-5, 3 seasons before Pippen. Jordan without Pippen: 38-44, 30-52, 40-42
    Pippen joins 1987-8 Bulls. Pippen & Jordan win total: 50, 47, 55, 61, 67, 57 (Then, after Jordan’s unretirement) 72, 69, 62.
    Pippen’s record with Bulls after Jordan retired; when NOBODY gave the Bulls a chance: 55-27, 47-35. Scottie Pippen is an incredible all-around basketball player capable of leading a great team. He was always undervalued but didn’t mind. He knew what he had to do at any given time and he did it. I consider him second to Jordan only in pathological competitiveness.

  2. - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    The Bulls recently hired Pippen as an ambassador to the team. I think this is nothing more than Reinsdorf trying to talk up Pippen more because he will be promoting the team now.

  3. Colin - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    Scottie was a fantastic player, but you can’t compare MJ’s pre-Pippen days to the 1+ seasons Pippen played without Mike. The supporting cast Scottie had without Mike was MUCH better than the one Mike had before Scottie.
    No, Michael couldn’t have won it without Scottie, but he could have won it with someone to replace Scottie. However, you couldn’t replace Jordan and expect to win.

  4. mikesporty - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:55 PM


  5. hnirobert - Aug 6, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    Who was the best swingman in the NBA after Michael? Scottie. So everyone crying and menstruating about DWade and LBJ joined forces needs to stop.

  6. Craig W. - Aug 6, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    Hey, slow down fella. MJ actually got more ink than he deserved in his time in the league, while Scottie got less – and it is still true.
    Even if you say Michael is GOAT, the ink was disproportionate, due to the fact that Michael was the first ESPN baby.
    While Scottie may not have been 1a (I do agree that Reinsdorf is biased), he certainly was much better than Robin. And he and Phil were the biggest reasons Michael was able to get those six championships.

  7. Hoog - Aug 7, 2010 at 12:11 AM

    But who are we you talking about as that someone??
    Would he have won 6 with Dominique Wilkins? How about Barkley? Tom Chambers? What about Adrian Dantley, or Mark Aquirre, Larry Johnson, Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond, Shawn Kemp?
    Pippen was really better than all of those players. Sure, he wasn’t the dominant scorer or rebounder than many of them, but he should could defend better than all of them. Most teams only have one shutdown defender, but those Bulls teams had two. As much as points win the game, defense decides championships, and those teams were known for their “d”.

  8. Hoog - Aug 7, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    Part of the accolades is because someone probably asked Reinsdorf a question, due to Pippen’s pending enshrinement. Its not like Reinsdorf call the papers to give his two cents.
    the other part being, MJ was an a-hole to pretty much everyone. Proof positive is his HOF speech. This is a time when fierce competitors show their class, and reflect on battles waged, with props thrown out to teammates, coaches, and competitors. MJ took this opportunity to show the real MJ, the one not polished by the NBA marketing machine. Granted, I was grateful for the large part he played in the 6 championships, but I was also a bit younger then, and much more into idol worship.

  9. dave - Aug 7, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    i thought that was common knowledge.

  10. GRiZZ - Aug 7, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    While 6 Bulls Championships DID happen with Pippen… the simple fact is those same 6 Championships DO NOT happen without Jordan.
    Pippen was smart enough to go to Houston for those 2 years Jordan left. Otherwise, there would be no argument.

  11. deathday - Aug 7, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    You are absolutely right, Colin. I was just stirring the pot a little. I regard Jordan as the greatest ever but I wanted to throw some support Pippen’s way. I’m from Chicago and it amazes me how even Bulls fans overlook Pippen’s contribution. He made everything better; national teams, the trailblazers etc.

  12. TheTruth - Aug 7, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    How many championships would they have if they didnt take pippen and instead took reggie miller? Thats really the only other big name talent from that draft i can remember who went AFTER scottie got picked 5th

  13. bea - Aug 8, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    congrats pippen!!..i know ul get in this year!!..u deserve it!!!
    mj said last yr,first..”u see scottie every championship”,that wasnt just a fluke.
    love to be there when the bulls had their run!!! just great!!..
    congrats again scottie pippen!!!♥

  14. jt - Aug 10, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    Michael was the offense. Scottie ran the defense. Arguably the best help defender ever, he may also have been the the best defensive player, non center, to have ever played. It wasn’t unusual to see Pippen bark orders to Jordan on the defensive end. It was his ability to help out that allowed Jordan to gamble on defense.
    He could handle the ball equally well with either hand, rare for a forward. His ability to handle the ball allowed the Bulls to win 6 championships without a classic playmaker at point guard. In many ways, Pippen was the true point guard on the team.
    And, Man! Was he athletic. Jordan himself said he couldn”t dunk with his left hand the way Scottie did.
    When Pippen came into the league, he was a beanpole who couldn’t hrow it in the ocean from a boat. He made himself into a decent shooter with range and in the gym he put on a good 20 lbs of muscle. He was deceptively strong.
    I would love to see a Pippen in his prime guard Lebron. That would be classic.

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