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5 Reasons Why Scottie Pippen Is The Most Underrated Player Ever

5 Reasons Why Scottie Pippen Is The Most Underrated Player Ever

Scottie Pippen is one of the top-50 stars in NBA history. What he accomplished alongside Michael Jordan was legendary because they won 6 NBA championships together and built a dynasty that changed the league forever. More specifically, Pippen and Jordan formed arguably the greatest duo in the history of basketball.

When looking at Pippen’s accomplishments, it is clear as day that he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The small forward won 6 titles, made 7 All-Star Teams, 7 All-NBA Teams, and 10 All-Defensive Teams. Pippen was also the 1994 All-Star MVP and made the 75th Anniversary Team. On those accolades alone, Scottie is a Hall of Fame star.

But still, Scottie Pippen was disrespected throughout his career and still gets the short end of the stick until this day. Pippen’s book, “The Unguarded”, revealed a ton of stories from his point of view. While his comments on Michael Jordan were misguided, it is a way for Pippen to retaliate on the disrespect he was shown throughout his Hall of Fame career. He should be allowed to do so because quite frankly, Scottie Pippen is the most underrated player of all time.


5. Overshadowed By The GOAT

Scottie Pippen was vastly underrated because he played alongside the greatest sports figure in American history, Michael Jordan. Michael was so spectacular that many fans and pundits tend to praise him for the Bulls’ success and undermine his faults. That means because of Michael’s greatness, Scottie Pippen was undermined because he could never come close to what his teammate did on the court. That is unfair because no other player in history can truly compare to what MJ did.

Jordan made headlines with his flashy style of play and immediately became a fan favorite before he won anything important. The way he moved, leaped in the air and seemed to levitate resonated with anyone watching him play. Even the way Jordan scored was truly spectacular; because he made everything look so beautiful to the naked eye. As great as players that came after him, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, no one comes close to being like Mike.

Beyond being eye candy, Jordan was a sensational talent and athlete. He was an obsessed winner and focused on what he did best: dominating professional basketball. MJ was so confident, that he was an unstoppable force in the clutch. Hitting game-winners and cutting his enemies’ throats, Michael did everything to win. Of course, he is the greatest scorer ever with 10 scoring titles and also locked down shooting guards better than anyone else.

Scottie is simply incapable of coming close to replicating what Jordan did on the floor. But that wasn’t his job. His job was to help Michael get over the hump and start bringing team success, which he did perfectly well. Pippen did not need to score 30 points a game, leap in the air with unbelievable hang time, or even deliver in the clutch. His job was to be a top-50 talent ever by focusing on one of his greatest strengths: playing defense.


4. Arguably Greatest Perimeter Defender Ever

When looking at the greatest perimeter defenders ever, Jordan and Pippen formed the best duo ever. But Pippen was just as good as Jordan on that end, if not better. Scottie made 10 All-Defensive Teams over his career, one more than Jordan made. As a 6’8” swingman with incredible length, Pippen could legitimately lock up 3 positions with ease and he did it every night.

What was amazing about Pippen’s defense was his stamina. The All-Star forward could defend a player over the length of the court and had no problem doing it every possession. Scottie knew his value as a defensive player and he was arguably the key cog in the Bulls’ suffocating defense that featured the likes of Jordan, Ron Harper, and Dennis Rodman among others. While parts of Chicago's dynasty changed throughout the years, Scottie was always consistent because no forward defended like him.

Pippen was 2” taller than Jordan and weighed 10 lbs more. While it is not out of the question that Michael could defend bigger players with confidence, Scottie’s size and athleticism helped him take care of the opposing team’s best scorers. With Pippen playing lockdown defense, he gave his team the space to dominate on offense. That is because Jordan could focus on being the best scorer of all time, which means no team had a chance at beating the Bulls.

Jordan won Defensive Player of the Year and Pippen never did, but Pippen’s dedication to the defensive side of the ball allowed Jordan to destroy opposing defenses with his offense. Without Scottie Pippen, the Bulls could not consistently form one of the greatest defenses in the history of the league.


3. Played Like A LeBron Lite In His Prime

LeBron James is renowned for his incredible all-around talent, and that is why he entered the GOAT debate in recent years. While James never got to the level that Jordan reached as a winner, he is recognized as a better all-around player. The King is 6’9” and weighs 250 lbs, and does not have a single weakness in his game in terms of skills. James can score from the outside and inside, and has the size to be a defensive force. Even though LeBron doesn’t play defense like he used to, he was a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate with the Miami Heat.

But LeBron’s greatest skill is his playmaking ability because his unselfishness allows his team to prosper. With LeBron being an incredible passer of the ball, he makes his teammates better and allows for a more efficient offense. Even when playing with some spectacular offensive players including Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving, and Anthony Davis; James played primarily as a playmaker because it meant his team was more efficient on offense.

While Scottie Pippen was not as physically imposing as LeBron and nowhere near as great, he played in the 90s similar to how The King does. Pippen was a special playmaker, averaging 5.2 APG over his career, and had seasons averaging 7.0 APG, 6.3 APG, and 6.2 APG. Even if Pippen was not as gifted as LeBron was as a passer, he was often the man to bring the ball up the floor for the Bulls.

Because Pippen was known to pass more than score, he was underrated for his impact on offense. LeBron gets credit for being a playmaker because he was consistently a top-5 scoring threat in the league every year. Doing both at a superstar level means James’ passing was often praised. Pippen was not the scorer that LeBron was, which is why he was nowhere near as great as a player. But Scottie was LeBron Lite in the way that he played and made his teammates better.

When it came to rebounding, Pippen was very close to LeBron. James averages 7.4 RPG over his career while the Bulls’ star averaged 6.4 RPG. Pippen knew how to crash the boards and was willing to get his knocks to haul in rebounds. James was bigger than Pippen which is why he has an edge in rebounding numbers, but Scottie could be relied upon to provide rebounds along with his passing and defense.

Scottie Pippen did not need to be as great as LeBron to help Jordan and the Bulls achieve success, he just needed to be a point-forward who locked down the opposing team’s best players. Scottie’s willingness to defer to Jordan meant his attributes went under-appreciated, including his passing ability and all-around game.


2. Scottie Made A Ton Of Sacrifices Which Hurt His Value

One major reason why Pippen did not get the credit he deserves is because of the sacrifices he made. Firstly, he was grossly underpaid for the majority of his career. Despite blossoming into a top-5 player in the league, he was making an average salary at best. The Bulls’ management team could not believe that Pippen would accept a deal like that and took advantage by continuing to build the team and pay Michael Jordan an obscene amount of money at the time. While Jordan deserved every penny he got, Pippen should have been making over double what he was being paid.

Many will point to the fact that it is Pippen’s fault for not negotiating for a better deal, which is true, but that led to him being underappreciated in NBA circles. We live in a world where the highest-paid people generate the most respect, and that meant Pippen was not on the level of other superstars in the league on a financial level. Scottie seemed to undermine his own worth, accepting whatever money was on the table to give himself and his family security. But had he been a tad more patient, he could have been paid more like a top-5 player in the game.

Secondly, Pippen made sacrifices on the court. He defended the opposing team’s best players, played playmaker, and was forced to do the little things that superstars normally never do. The Hall of Famer was offensively gifted, as he showed when Jordan retired but focused his efforts to maximize what Jordan brought to the Bulls. While it would have been foolish for Pippen to not make these sacrifices, they ended up making him the most underrated star in NBA history. Remember, Scottie was a top-3 MVP candidate when Jordan retired and might be the man most responsible for helping Jordan capture 6 rings and place himself as the GOAT forever.


1. Without Pippen, The Bulls Do Not Win 6 Rings

Quite simply, the Chicago Bulls do not win 6 championships without Scottie Pippen. Jordan said it himself: Without Scottie Pippen, he does not win. A player with that much responsibility and power deserves more respect, but he never seemed to get it. Whether it was playing in Jordan’s shadow or being grossly underpaid, Scottie seemed to fly under the radar at all times. Unfortunately, being Scottie Pippen meant that being a “Robin” to Jordan’s “Batman” was a bad thing.

Even when looking at lyrics in rap songs, referring to Jordan is seen as a compliment while being called a “Pippen” is an insult. Once again, Jordan was so great that anyone compared to him will fall short of being impressive. But that should not take away from the greatness of Scottie Pippen, arguably the most dominant defensive wing in NBA history and an unselfish superstar. Pippen’s book has caused a lot of commotion within the NBA community, but his thoughts are just bottled emotions relating to frustration.

Pippen wanted more respect, and he deserved it. On the court, Michael was getting beat down by the Larry Bird Celtics and the “Bad Boy” Pistons before Pippen became a star. It took Pippen 3 years to become an All-Star, and by his 4th year, he was a dominant two-way player. In year 4, Pippen averaged 17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 6.2 APG to go along with 2.4 SPG. With Pippen blossoming into a two-way star, Michael had enough to win his first title and the first of a three-peat. The following year, Pippen put up 21.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 7.0 APG. By playing like LeBron James Lite, Scottie provided what he needed to help the Bulls win titles.

Based on his sacrifices on and off the court, Scottie is the most underrated NBA star of all time who helped Michael Jordan and the Bulls become the best dynasty in NBA history. 

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