The great Scottie Pippen voiced his thoughts after the Heat eliminated the Bulls to advance to the NBA finals.
(LeBron James) may be the greatest player to ever play the game - those were the words from Pippen, a long time teammate of Michael Jordan during the Chicago Bulls Dynasty which accumulated six championship rings apiece for the legendary duo.
Pippen's remark has sparked criticism and debate across the nation in an interview with ESPN.
Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to ever play in the game, but I may go as far to say LeBron James is probably the greatest player to ever play the game...Don't get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday, said Pippen.
No guy on the basketball court is not a threat to score with LeBron James out there. Not only will LeBron dominate from the offensive end as well, but he's also doing it on the defensive end, which really makes him the complete package. He's able to get in those passing lanes, shoot those gaps and create transition opportunities where he is pretty much unstoppable.
There was plenty of opposition to the remarks including one from ESPN radio host and columnist Stephen A. Smith. That is blasphemous. Scottie Pippen shouldn't be allowed to be in the streets of Chicago. ..Scottie Pippen the man who has six rings because of Michael Jordan to utter such a thing, it is blasphemous, Smith said, though LeBron James may have been the greatest 20 year old that I had seen.
Smith had support against Pippen's claim from both Jordan's former teammate Horace Grant. Pip is my man, and we will always be close but I totally disagree...LeBron is going to be one of the top players to ever play the game. But Michael Jeffrey Jordan, who we bumped heads with at times, is I think in my era, the best who ever played the game, said Grant.
However, according to another ESPN analyst, Skip Bayless, James does have advantages over Jordan that can lead him towards being the greatest player ever.
LeBron James does have this going for him. He is a better all around player than Michael and has more skills than Michael...He's a point guard, he's a better passer, little better rebounder, can play defense. But Michael is 100 times better winner than LeBron James, said Bayless.
Believe me, he made myself, Scottie, B.J. [Armstrong], even Bill Cartwright who I love, he made us better players. He gave us that confidence. But first we had to earn his trust. And once we earned his trust you saw championship after championship, Grant said.
In comparison, James and Jordan provide similar statistics in their first several seasons. But Jordan won his first championship after seven seasons, LeBron has yet to win one. If one were to compare rings, the still active Kobe Bryant, owner of five championship titles, would be further ahead of LeBron in pursuit of Jordan's throne. It would appear premature to include James in any conversation, especially one that labels him as the greatest to ever play the game.
Beyond stats and NBA titles, the heart of a champion is apparent in Jordan as LeBron will need more development in that area before comparisons are made to His Airness.
Pippen's comments resurfaced rumors on his personal envy and resentment towards Jordan after seasons of playing in his shadow. Pippen later tweeted that he did not believe LeBron James has yet eclipsed Jordan.
As of now, nothing is proven yet for the talented LeBron James. Who is better now? Can LeBron be better than Jordan once his career concludes? Let us know what you think.