Wednesday, October 06, 2004


I know I just mentioned this in passing so far, and looking back I should've probably given a little more reaction to Pippen's retirement.

One weakness of mine though is that I lack historical perspective on such things. Its better to leave it to those who have covered him during his career, not those like me who grew up with him already a star.

Some nice retrospectives today, pretty much all weighing his great contributions to the franchises while not failing to mention his transgressions off and on the court:

Sam Smith probably offers the best one of all (and nice to see him write a column without mentioning a way to trade Eddy Curry). Smith uses both Pippen's general responsibilities (lock-down defender, ballhandler) and specific game contributuions to show what Pippen meant to the Bulls championships.

Rick Telander is pretty harsh, mentioning naturally the 1.8 seconds he sat out of a 1994 playoff game (while Toni Kukoc made the game-winning shot). While this is something that no fan can truly forgive, and you won't find an article today that didnt' have "1.8", Telander takes it a step farther claiming that Bulls fans will find it hard to choose between that image instead of his positive contributions.

Telander's co-columnist Jay Mariotti, however (!) proves to be the voice of reason here:

But somehow Tuesday, as he stood not coincidentally beside the hardware case at the Berto Center, his legal brushes and incidents didn't seem to matter much. If this was Pippen's retirement day, the overwhelming sentiment was to pay tribute and salute him as the perfect teammate, the ideal complement to You Know Who, surely the only superstar in the selfish, showy, bling-bling era of pro basketball who could have compromised his ego in the best interests of Michael Jordan and the Bulls' dynasty

Ok, Mariotti did take it a little far with the 'bling-bling' tangent, but  I won't expect too much out of a guy who never misses a chance to wax poetically for those golden Jordan years over today's 'selfish' players. But his sentiment is what I think Bulls fans share. Most don't care anymore about 1.8 (we're more upset at Hugh Hollins), the gun charges, his constant whining over money, and just a general surly nature.

I for one love to remember Pippen facing the ultimate "stepping up" test in 1994. There's cases on every team in every year of replacements needing to match his predecessors contributions (Ben Gordon and Jamal Crawford this year?), but perhaps never in this magnitude. Kobe Bryant is attempting a similar situation in L.A., but unlike Pippen nobody questioned Kobe's ability. For those who thought Pippen was riding Jordan's coattails the whole time, that year was predicted as a disaster. But Pip put on a nearly MVP season with a team geared to play around Jordan. And if not for the aforementioned Hollins,  who knows what Pippen could've wound up accomplishing that year?

 The Bulls Dynasty is often referred to as "The Jordan" Bulls, but take out Pippen and those two terms may not have been synonymous. I'll remember his role in those years as the consummate #2. I'll remember graceful drives down the court, thundering dunks, stifling defense at 4 positions if you needed it, the originator (or at least greatest ambassador) of the Point Forward.

What memories the name Scottie Pippen truly conjures up, though, will always come down to this: