Is LeBron James better than Michael Jordan? Is he better than Kobe Bryant? These are usually the comparisons we hear where King James is concerned, but there’s an NBA player who feels left out of this conversation. He even told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that he was “the LeBron James before LeBron James.” A bold statement given the irreplaceable star status James has achieved. Not too many NBA players are deemed The King.
However, Scottie Pippen wasn’t necessarily referring to superstar caliber when he made the statement, but rather their similar style of play. That’s not to degrade Pippen’s superstardom. After all, he does have six NBA championship rings, all of which he won with the Chicago Bulls, and let’s not forget his incredible season without Jordan, in which he led the Bulls in every statistical category. With Seven All-star team selections, three All-NBA first-team selections, and eight All-Defensive first-team selections, it’s hard to ignore the man’s incredible skill.
Pippen told reporters that it’s not even close, when comparing James to other players. He’s the guy that should be front and center of those conversations.
It doesn’t seem too far-fetched considering James himself has mentioned over the years that he watched Pippen a lot growing up, and incorporated his style into his own game. You won’t hear much about Pippen during these comparisons though. They usually emerge from a desire to determine who actually is the best, mostly based on accolades as opposed to playing styles.
It’s interesting now to think about the wink LeBron James directed at Pippen, after he drained a step-back jumper over Jimmy Butler during a victory over the Chicago Bulls in game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Was that a jab at the Bull’s legend? A sarcastic thanks for being his inspiration? In any case, we’ll just have to wait and see whether or not Pippen becomes a new focus on the never ending comparisons.