Last week, I wrote about Scottie Pippen and how he became a superstar. Today we’ll examine just how big of a star he really was.
In 1996, the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary by naming the top 50 players in league history. Pippen was on that short list.
Despite that, and all the other accolades he has received, I still think he is largely underrated by a lot of people.
He won those six NBA titles with the Bulls in the 1990’s. He was a seven-time All-Star. Also a seven-time All-NBA selection, three times as a first-teamer, in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
His quickness and length gave him the ability guard all five positions, and that helped him become one of the best defensive players in history.
Ten times, he was named to the NBA All-Defensive team, including eight straight first-team nods from 1992-1999.
He was the NBA All-Star game MVP in 1994. He led the league in steals in 1995.
Twice an Olympian, Pippen was a member of the original “Dream Team” in 1992 winning a gold medal. He won gold again in 1996.
It’s a difficult task to rank players, especially across different eras.
There is certainly a “recency bias,” in many things besides just sports, meaning we tend to look more favorably upon the newer as we forget the older. But Pippen should stand the test of time.
It is safe to assume that if the Bulls did not have Pippen to team with Jordan, they would have looked for other pieces to help Jordan win a bunch of NBA titles.
But Pippen was indeed the perfect wingman for Jordan.
A few critics try to dismiss Pippen as simply Robin to Jordan’s Batman. But it really is more than that.
Basketball-Refenence.com is a great website for stat geeks like me. It has numbers on players and teams from the beginnings of pro basketball.
According to the site, Pippen ranks in the top 100 of most major categories in NBA history.
His 18,940 points are 60th, his 7,494 rebounds are 94th, and his 6,135 assists are 32nd.
To further demonstrate his versatility, he ranks sixth all-time in steals with 2,307 and 100th in blocks with 947.
Oh, and they also estimate that his career earnings were over $100 million.
Pippen is obviously an inductee into the UCA Sports Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
On the largest stage, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
In 2016, that top 50 list was unofficially revised to include players from the 20-year period since 1996. Several big names were dropped from the list to make room for newer guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Steph Curry.
But Pippen was still there, listed as one of the 50 greatest players in the 70-year history of the NBA.
My guess is he will be for many years to come.