What if Scottie Pippen hadn't been traded to the Bulls on draft day? Would Jordan be considered as great as he is? How many NBA Championships would Jordan have won without Pippen?
Scottie Pippen was an integral part in the development of Jordan and the many accolades that he achieved. He was probably the most significant piece in NBA history. He was the sidekick that Jordan needed in his early years and pushed him to win championships.
Michael Jordan was known as a flashy scorer and a ball hog who had no trust in his teammates. If he were never blessed with Pippen, then he would have been known as another Dominique Wilkins instead of elevating his game to that of Bird and Magic.
Many people tend to believe that Jordan made Pippen great. That he allowed Pippen to one of the Top 50 greatest of all time. That Pippen only made the Hall of Fame because of Jordan. Well, there could be an argument for this, but I believe that they complimented each other perfectly. The two taught each other how to play aggressive defense, when to pass the ball, how to rely on teammates, and to push each other in practice.
Wilkins, Ewing, and Barkley were all great in their own rights, but lacked that perfect sidekick to push them to that next level. David Robinson never could take his game over that hump until Tim Duncan arrived. As you can see, Jordan needed Pippen.
How many rings would Jordan had won without Pippen?
When Jordan took his talents to play baseball for the Chicago White Sox, Pippen got his chance to finally be the Batman of the team. He won MVP honors at the All-Star game. He also led his team in most of the statistical categories on the team as well as being named on the All-NBA first team for the first time, and was third in the MVP voting. During the Eastern Conference Final, the Bulls were one bad call away from making the Finals. They lost to the New York Knicks, but this showed how talented Pippen really was. However, Jordan's first three seasons without Pippen, he was swept in the first round.
Pippen did what Jordan didn't want to do or couldn't. He guarded the opposing team's best offensive player so that Jordan could roam the lanes to pick off passes. The defensive prowess of Pippen and Jordan were the catalyst to all those championships. Pippen is also widely considered the top defensive wing player of all-time. Pippen easily could have scored more, but allowed the more capable Jordan to and was a facilitator.
What I do believe is that Jordan taught Pippen the will to win and be the best. Jordan was the utmost winner, and Pippen was a close second.
Scottie Pippen was the ultimate supporting player in the NBA. He was able to accept his role. There have been situations such as the Kobe and Shaq teaming where one couldn't support the other. Kobe and Shaq could have won so many more championships, but their egos didn't allow them to.
I really have to applaud Pippen for keeping his ego in check for the most part, and riding the roller coaster that was Air Jordan. If there was a superstar for role players then Pippen was it. He knew how to make his teammates better, and what Jordan's strengths were.
Yes, Pippen probably wouldn't have won a championship without Jordan, but the same can be said if Jordan never had Pippen.