Scottie Pippen: Without MJ, Would He Have Been Considered an All-Time Great?

Mike B.Correspondent IJune 17, 2011

Scottie Pippen: Without MJ, Would He Have Been Considered an All-Time Great?

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    6 May 1997:  Guard Michael Jordan #23 and forward Scottie Pippen #33 of the Chicago Bulls stand on the court during a playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  The Bulls won the game 100-97.   Mandatory Credit: Jon
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Scottie Pippen shocked the sports world a few weeks ago when he claimed Michael Jordan is the greatest scorer, but LeBron James is the greatest player.

    NBA fans and experts everywhere where puzzled by those words, since most believe that Pippen wouldn't have six championship rings if it wasn't for Jordan.

    During his days with the Chicago Bulls, Pippen was considered by many as nothing more than Jordan's sidekick and a star that Jordan "made."

    Several people feel that Pippen is vastly overrated and wouldn't have been anything special if he hadn't played alongside Jordan in Chicago.

    Nonetheless, Pippen enjoyed a remarkable 17-year career on the hardwood with the Bulls, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers. The seven-time All-Star forward was named to the All-NBA First Team three times, the Second Team twice and the Third Team twice. 

    He was also selected to play for both U.S. Olympic "Dream Teams" in 1992 and 1996, and was named one of the NBA's 50 greatest players in '97.

    Pippen was mostly known for his lockdown defense. He earned a spot on the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight consecutive years form '92-'99 and was named to the Second Team twice.

    He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in '10, which was his first year of eligibility.

    If Pippen never played with Jordan, would he still have been a star or would he have been a flat-out bust or just an ordinary player?   

    This slideshow will take you on a realistic journey of Pippen's career if he and MJ didn't cross paths.

Scottie Stays in Sonics Green

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    Pippen is selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the the fifth overall pick in the '87 NBA draft.

    But instead of being traded to the Bulls for No. 8 pick Olden Polynice, he sticks around in Seattle.

    The Sonics also use the ninth overall pick on Horace Grant, who in "real life" helped Jordan, Pippen and the Bulls win three titles in the '90s. Meanwhile, Chicago drafts and keeps Polynice and then chooses Derrick McKey 10th overall.

    As a rookie, Pippen serves as a spark plug off the Sonics' bench and helps the trio of Tom Chambers, Xavier McDaniel and Dale Ellis reach the postseason. 

    Following the season, Chambers signs a deal with the Phoenix Suns allowing Pippen to move into the starting lineup.

A Star Is Born in the Emerald City

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    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    The Sonics trade McDaniel and Ellis within the next few years as the team opts to rebuild around Pippen, Grant, Shawn Kemp and '90 lottery pick Gary Payton.  

    Without Pippen, the Bulls somehow land the fourth overall pick in the '89 draft and select sharpshooter Glen Rice to become Jordan's "sidekick."

    Pippen enjoys a spectacular '89-'90 campaign, averaging a little over 22 points per game and making the first of eight straight All-Star appearances.

    The talented "point forward" eventually develops into one of the game's top all-around players. However, he is left off the '92 Olympic squad as Detroit's Isiah Thomas makes the cut instead.    

    Pippen, though, lands a spot on "Dream Team II" which wins a gold medal at the '94 FIBA World Championship. 

Winning a Title as Batman Rather Than Robin

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    The Jordan and Rice-led Bulls don't win a title in '91, but end up winning back-to-back in '92 and '93. Jordan retires for the first time in October '93. 

    Meanwhile, Pippen, Payton and Kemp develop into one of the league's most dangerous duos. All three players are All-Stars, but Pippen is Seattle's clear alpha dog and comes close to winning a MVP during the '93-94 season.

    The Sonics, now a true title contender, lose to Hakeem Olajuwon's Houston Rockets in the '94 Western Conference Finals before capturing a title in '95. Pippen is named Finals MVP.   

    Jordan comes out of retirement and returns to Chicago, where he's surrounded with a championship-caliber supporting cast. MJ's Bulls end up defeating Pippen's Sonics in six games in the '96 NBA Finals.

    In the summer of '96, Pippen helps the U.S. win gold in the Olympics.      

Pip Heads Out of Seattle

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    28 Feb 1999:  Scottie Pippen #33 of the Houston Rockets looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The Lakers defeated the Rockets 106-90.    Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
    Elsa/Getty Images

    In '97, Pippen just misses out at being named one of league's 50 greatest players. Dominique Wilkins makes the list instead. 

    Pippen is traded to the Rockets in January '99 and spends one season playing alongside Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. 

    He is later dealt to Portland, where he stays for four seasons, and then finishes his career in '04 after a final season back with the Sonics.    


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    ATLANTA, GA - MAY 12:  NBA Hall-of-Famer Scottie Pipper after the game between the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE T
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    During his successful NBA career, mostly in Seattle, Pippen wins one ring, a Finals MVP, two gold medals, makes eight All-Star teams, five All-NBA First Teams and 10 All-Defensive First Teams.

    And without Pippen, Jordan wins just three titles instead of six.

    So is Pippen still an all-time great without playing with the great Michael Jordan?