Without Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan Is Just a Bigger Jerry West

Owen MarksContributor IAugust 27, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  The Los Angeles Lakers hold up the Larry O'Brien Trophy after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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First, stop with the sputtering. YOU have no IDEA how GOOD Jerry West was. He isn't the logo for the NBA for fun! Uhmm, sorry for the yelling.

"The Logo" played from 1960 to 1974. He was 6'2" and 175 pounds. He averaged 27 points, 6.7 assists, a .474 shooting percentage, and 5.8 total rebounds per game. He played 39.2 minutes per game.

This guy was a ballplayer. My ultimate compliment. If you have some time, and believe me, it's going to take some time, read about his accolades. It can be found at the bottom of the website provided in the notes of this page.

The one knock. He won only one Championship. That was in 1972.

The first thing people mention when comparing eras in football and basketball is how much bigger, faster, stronger, and more athletic this modern group is to their older version. The first thing I tell these wise keepers of the facts is that the rules were different and "no blood, no foul" wasn't just a saying. In football's case, no broken bones, no foul. Since football is not my point, this is my last mention of that sport.

To continue, these individuals were playing to support their family and absolutely took no prisoners. The pay at that time was not quite as lucrative as now, and many needed the playoff money.

The second thing I mention is that there were no "nights off" at that time. Every game played, either someone was as good as you, or mean enough to make up the gap. Their league was small and was made up of two divisions.

This lasted during West's career from 1960 until 1970. In addition, in 1960, there were a total of eight teams, which was was expanded to nine the following year. It remained a nine-team league until 1966 when it was expanded to 10. In 1967, it was at 12, and then went to 14 until 1969. Now in 1970, we enter the more modern era of sports with four divisions and 17 teams.

West's career ended in 1974 and in a four division league, which had added one more team to the 17, for a grand total of 18 teams. Today, there are four divisions and 30 teams. I'm pretty sure players of a higher caliber get "nights off" now.

The homework is done, so let's move directly to the good stuff.

Scottie Pippen is the glue that held the six championships together for Michael Jordan. Scottie always played the other team's best scorer and was able to do anything on the court necessary to fill the gap for Jordan. He was the ultimate wingman, anything needed, he could provide. He easily could have scored more, but deferred to Michael and was a facilitator.

Jordan left to "play baseball" in 1993 and Scottie decided to average 22 ppg, 2.9 stls, 5.6 assts, 8.7 trb, and .08 blks. Jordan returned in 1994 for 17 games and Pippen still averaged 21 ppg, 2.9 stls, 5.2 assts, 8.1 trbs, and 1.1 blks. Not Mikey's scoring numbers, but Scottie didn't need them to be.

With those 1993 numbers, Pippen came within one blown call of taking his team to the NBA Finals against Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. Pippen could run this Chicago team just fine without Michael, but Mikey J. never would have gotten to the the ultimate game without Scottie P.

Mike was a scorer who learned to be a facilitator later in his career. Yes, he had decent assist numbers, but he only passed when forced. Later in his career, he learned to trust. 

Yes, yes, I know he won defensive awards. People, please, he was a great off-the-ball defender. He was never put on anyone's primary scorer or on a great dribbler.

Further, if Mike went into a slump, Scottie could be counted on to bridge the gap. MJ was lucky he had someone around who did what was necessary to keep the game in hand until it was "Jordan time." That, of course, meant he scored at will, while Scottie slowed the other team's primary dribbler, allowing the trap defense to work effectively. 

Plain and simple, if Scottie had left Chicago, Jordan's legacy would have left with him. But he stayed, and the six championships are now lore.

There is, however, one caveat. Jordan had the will of a champion. Normally, it's not something you learn. It's something with which you're born.

Scottie didn't seem to have it before he met Mike. If Mike didn't teach it to Scottie, then he brought it to the forefront of Pippen's personality. I'm not totally sure about all that, but I am sure that as great as Scottie became, the will to win was a direct result of playing with Jordan. 

So with that, maybe Mike did create his "path." But be that as it may, if Pippen had not been part of Jordan's "path," both MJ and "The Logo" would both be known as great players who just couldn't seem to win championships.

NOTE : Jerry West stats http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/w/westje01.html Copyright © 2000-2010 Sports Reference LLC.

NOTE : Salaries for some elite athletes. There are various dates and one comment that disputes Jerry West's salary. But the point is made. These are the salaries for the elites of their era. Adjust down greatly for the average salary.  http://www.nesn.com/2010/05/sports-legends-salaries-may-surprise-you.html © 2010 New England Sports Network.

NOTE : A must read...ASSOCIATION FOR PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL RESEARCH FAQ http://www.apbr.org/apbr-faq.html Copyright © Association for Professional Basketball Research. All rights reserved.Revised: November 01, 2001.

NOTE : I am aware that Jerry W. ran into the Celtic buzzsaw during his career. However, the C's won the NBA Championship in 1960-1966, 1967-1968, and 1974. In between those championships were the Philadelphia 76ers in 1966, New York Knicks in 1969 and 1972, and Milwaukee Bucks in 1970. Other teams won championships during West's time.