Scottie Pippen was a winner in his heyday and made his mark as the ultimate defender in one of the most physical eras in NBA history. But that doesn’t mean Pip has universal respect from his peer. Just ask Charles Barkley and Isiah Thomas. These two NBA legends had something to say to Pippen and his alleged pretensions about being tough.
Pippen and Barkley were former rivals turned teammates in Houston Rockets. The animosity started in 1993 when the Barkley-led Phoenix Suns met the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the NBA finals. Chicago went to win the series, 4-2. While the spotlight of the matchup was the Bulls’ number 23 versus the Suns’ number 34, the heated rivalry spilled to other players.
Now, Pippen and Barkley are long retired, but the beef is apparently alive. Scottie called Sir Charles for being a fake tough guy. In a GQ story, Pippen shared that Charles only fought with referees around.
“I ain’t never seen him fight a Black man unless there were referees around. He plays his role like he’s tough.”Scottie Pippen, GQ
This statement, expectedly, did not sit well with Barkley.
“I don’t walk around saying I’m Billy Badass, but I can promise you one thing – I’m tougher than Scottie Pippen. Let me put that to rest right now.”Charles Barkley, Fadeaway World
On the other hand, the TNT analyst understood where the 6-time champion was coming from. All the wild statements that Pip said recently coincide with his new book coming out.
“I know he has a book coming out. He’s taking shots at Michael, Phil & myself. I’m just laughing because I’m like ‘Man, we’re 60 years old, we don’t have beefs anymore.’ I think it’s silly and stupid,” Barkley said on The Dan Patrick ShowCharles Barkley, Fadeaway World
Pippen is obviously doing all he can to step out of MJ’s shadow, and his attempts have been falling on deaf ears. Long before his book, Isiah Thomas was asked about not playing on the Dream Team and made one of the most epic moments in Open Court history.
Thomas was one of the league’s biggest stars at that time, and his omission in the star-studded lineup featured MJ, Pippen, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, and David Robinson, to name a few, was glaring. It created narratives that some of the players in the roster disliked him.
“I don’t mind Michael Jordan saying, ‘I didn’t want Isiah to be on the Dream Team.‘ I don’t mind if Larry Bird said, ‘I don’t want Isiah to be on the Dream Team.‘ But Scottie Pippen? Man, come on. You can’t say NOTHING. … Man, go to the park.”Isiah Thomas, Open Court
This confirms Scottie Pippen’s stature in the league among peers and rivals. As great as Pippen was, and he was great – just go check out his numbers and highlights when MJ was playing baseball – Pip still isn’t seen by his peers as a player on the Mt. Olympus level.
MJ might not have won a single title without Pippen, but we still know who made all the clutch shots and let one of the greatest teams in NBA history. One thing NBA legends don’t tolerate is pretending to be something that you’re not. One of the best defenders in NBA history doesn’t sound bad, does it?