It’s almost impossible to emphasize the importance of Scottie Pippen in all the success the Chicago Bulls had in the ’90s. Pippen was capable of doing several things on the court exceptionally well, and this was a virtue that followed him throughout his career. Despite being able to score 20 points on every team on a nightly basis, assist, lead the fast break, Pippen is considered one of the best and versatile defenders of all-time.
Defensively Pippen was always in the right place at the right time, locking down the best players on the opposing teams. In one instance, Julius Erving said Pippen did more defensively for the team than Jordan did, but that gave them an advantage against other teams because they greatly complemented each other.
“There are certain things that Pippen does for that team that Michael doesn’t do. Definitely defensively. I think offensively, he’s always conscious of getting the other guys involved. Not to take anything away from Michael, but I think Scottie is just more cognizant of the total package, and that makes them complement each other really well.”Julius Erving
Pippen’s former teammate John Paxson said Pippen’s presence on the court was of extreme importance. Everybody knew Pippen has their back on defense, and because of his ability to cover a lot of ground, if someone made a mistake, Pippen was there to jump in and make a great defensive play.
“The subtle things he did so well, defensively helping his teammates, recovering out to guys offensively, making plays being unselfish…those are things that teammates always recognize and noticed. You always felt like Scottie had your back. If you made a mistake somewhere on the floor, he was going to try and cover up for you.”John Paxson
Pippen remains somewhat underappreciated among NBA fans today, especially the younger ones who haven’t had the opportunity to see him play. He got some recognition in The Last Dance documentary, but it only showed a glimpse of his greatness and importance for the Bulls on their route to six championships. However, other NBA greats who understand the game know how useful and versatile on both ends of the floor Pippen truly was, especially in his prime.