“Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to ever play in the game. But I may go as far to say Lebron James may be the the greatest player to ever play the game…” – Scottie Pippen
When people make outrageous comments like this, my first reaction is to look at what possible motivation or bias may be present to cause the statements.
Scottie Pippen’s reason for wanting to call LeBron the greatest ever is the same reason he’s wrong: The supporting cast. Pippen knows the one knock that will keep LeBron from being called better than MJ is the fact that he has a stronger supporting cast. James has Wade (and Bosh) and Jordan had Pippen. When people will say that LeBron had more help thanks to the All-Star sidekick in Wade, they’ll be directly comparing Pippen and Wade, putting Dwyane ahead of the Bulls legend. But if Pippen publicly declares LeBron’s superiority, he’s distancing James from Wade and, by default, himself from Wade as a sidekick.
But face it: Pippen is dead wrong. LeBron is a great player, possibly on his way to being an all-time great. But has luxuries on the court Jordan never had. No team will ever be able to develop a whole defensive scheme dedicated to LeBron because he has two teammates that can throw up 30 points. When Boston had an answer for James, Wade was able to average 32 points in the series. When Deng played LeBron tough, Bosh took out his tampon and dropped more than 30. By the way, how many times did anyone other than Jordan or Pippen score more than 30 in a Bulls playoff game?
James won’t ever again face extended double teams and sometimes won’t even be guarded by the other team’s best defender. He’s also able to become more dominant in the fourth because he can rely on Bosh and Wade in quarters one through three.
Yes, LeBron is doing remarkable things on the court. His scoring, passing and defense are tops in the league, but how much scoring would he do against a defensive scheme dedicated solely to slowing him down? How much energy would he have for D if he couldn’t depend on two other All-Stars to help shoulder the load? James may very well still be in the Finals and dominant without the aid of a powerhouse sidekick like Wade. But we may never know for sure. The fact is, James willingly sacrificed his chance at surpassing Michael when he made his “Decision.”
And Scottie, D. Wade is way better than you are. Sorry.