This post was written last year at the time that the Bulls retired Scottie Pippen's jersey...thought I'd share it with you all.
The great Scottie Pippen is getting his number retired by the Bulls, and ESPN is covering it at great length. They're calling him the "Greatest Sidekick ever". Fair enough. What are my feelings on Scottie? Do I remember the 1.8 seconds in 1994? Or the shut down D? The Migraine headaches? Or his gracefulness in the open court? I remember it all, but what I really remember, is how he was not only a perfect compliment to Jordan, but my favorite player of all time.
There is no denying that Jordan is the greatest player of all time, and that Scottie doesn't sniff a single Ring without him. And there is no player that has ever made my jaw drop while watching like Jordan did. He was and is my favorite player to watch play the game. He did things that were unbelievable. There wasn't a part of his game that was weak. And he shined the brightest when it mattered most. Game on the line? Give it to Jordan. Series on the line? Jordan will not let his team lose. You doubt him? He'll make you eat your words. That's actually my favorite thing about Jordan...when some other player would question his skills, or say he was going to shut him down...Jordan just toyed with the guy. That's when Jordan was the best and most entertaining....when he had a sucker on the hook.
But I digress....
Jordan was all those things....but he wasn't my favorite player. Oh he was for awhile, when he first came on the scene, he was numero uno for me. But just as kids start out liking Superman, they soon realize he can get a little boring. He's so perfect, so unbeatable, so exulted....there's just no drama in it. Then you find a super hero like Spiderman...he's got depth, he's vulnerable, he's got flaws...but he rises above it and is special (Plus, DC Comics are just crap). Scottie was Spiderman.
When the Bulls faced a tough wing man, who got the defensive assignment? Scottie.
Who brought the ball up, and setup the offense? Scottie.
Who invented the Point forward? Scottie.
But he couldn't put the team on his shoulders, he just didn't have that much strength...he's only human. Jordan could, but he's not of this planet. Scottie was there, doing everything else, making the extra pass, taking advantage of all the attention that Jordan got, playing the best D the NBA has ever seen...and that's what made him great. He was the perfect Jack of all trades, and was perfectly happy to operate in Superman's shadow. And so what if he didn't win another championship with out the big guy...they were a perfect team. I don't know if we'll ever see another perfect pairing of superstars ever again.
What's strange to me, is you don't hear their names like a tandem anywhere. There's Stockton-Malone, Magic-Kareem, Shaq-Kobe...but Jordan-Pippen is too often forgetten, because it's always Jordan. His star is so bright, it outshines the pairing. And I mentioned before that Scottie doesn't get a Ring without MJ....
But does Jordan get a ring without Scottie? No.
For as great as he was, he needed someone to have his back. Kobe is proving you can't do it alone....and he keeps on proving it. Jordan was smarter than that. Not only did he embrace Scottie as a teammate, but he often tried to push the spotlight over on him; trying to let everyone know that Jordan was the lucky one to have such a great wingman. And I think that's the perfect phrase for Scottie. Not sidekick as ESPN tries to say...but Wingman. The guy who does the little things, the grunt work, so the prize can be reached.
So the next time your buddy goes home with the fat chick so you can score with the super model, call him what he is, Pippen. Or number 33. Or just plain old Scottie.
(The great thing about that, is that means you're Jordan)