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Dennis Rodman: Scottie Pippen Would Have Been Better Than LeBron James in '90s

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 13: NBA Legend, Scottie Pippen and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers talk before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 13, 2019 at STAPLES Center 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

While many have spent The Last Dance comparing Michael Jordan and LeBron James, Dennis Rodman doesn't think LeBron would have even been the second-best player on those 1990s Bulls teams. 

"He revolutionized the point-forward position. All these players today should thank Scottie Pippen," Rodman told Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. "Guys like Kevin Durant should say, 'Wow, look what you did for us.' Scottie could handle, he could shoot the ball, he could defend, he could rebound.

"If LeBron was playing during the '90s, I'd still say Scottie Pippen was the second-best player behind Michael." 

While we could summarily dismiss this comment with a Bugs Bunny meme, let's assess it from a strictly objective perspective. LeBron is in his 17th NBA season. Pippen played 17 seasons before his retirement, so it's only fair to put their resumes side-by-side:

LeBron

  • Points: 34,087
    Rebounds: 9,353
    Assists: 9,298
    Steals: 2,011
    Blocks: 951
    Win Shares: 236.1
    VORP: 133.2
    Finals MVPs: 3
    NBA MVPs: 4
    All-Star Games: 16
    All-NBA Selections: 15
    All-Defensive Selections: 6

     

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Pippen

  • Points: 18,948
    Rebounds: 7,494
    Assists: 6,135
    Steals: 2,307
    Blocks: 947
    Win Shares: 125.1
    VORP: 63.2
    Finals MVPs: 0
    NBA MVPs: 0
    All-Star Games: 7
    All-NBA Selections: 7
    All-Defensive Selections: 10

While we can give Pippen a slight edge in terms of defensive resume, he and LeBron are not in the same stratosphere. Even if we cherry-picked the five best seasons of Pippen's career against the five worst of LeBron's, James would come ahead in nearly every major statistical category.

Pippen's highest win share total for a single season is 13.1. LeBron has 12 different seasons with a higher number.

That's not to discount anything Pippen accomplished; he was an amazing player. Rodman was likely just backing up his longtime teammate, which is totally understandable.

As for the veracity of the claim, well, the proof is in the numbers. 

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