Scottie Pippen had some things to say recently, sitting down with Tyler R. Tynes of GQ to talk everything from his relationships with Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley to some of today’s current stars.
He had some poignant criticism of Ben Simmons, noting that his biggest issue is that he’s “afraid of being humiliated,” which leads to him turning down shots to avoid getting fouled late in games. He pointed out that’s the difference between he and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will keep attacking even after airballing free throws, and is the thing that Simmons has to unlock in order to take the next step.
Simmons wasn’t the only star for whom Pippen had thoughts, as he pointed out the issue in Durant’s game, which is that he tried to do everything himself late in the Nets-Bucks series, and doesn’t let the team try to win as a group but tries to win doing it all himself.
It’s not an individual game, you can’t go into basketball and beat nobody with an individual record. And I used this example of what happened to Kevin Durant just the other day: this is the first time we’ve ever really seen Kevin Durant have to be the man and bring the team home. We ain’t never really had to see that because he’s had [Russell] Westbrook, Steph Curry, Klay [Thompson]. He’s been beating people, definitely in Golden State, by committee. With a team. He did that, but that team already knew how to win without KD. But you put KD in Brooklyn, and Kyrie [Irving] gets hurt and James Harden ain’t that guy, now KD not only has to score for them but also make plays for them. And this is no knock to KD, but they asked me, “Has he surpassed LeBron James?” And my answer was: LeBron James knows team basketball better than KD.
He needs to learn how to utilize his teams. He has to learn how to set up his teammates to be better. That’s it. As great as he is, there’s a [cap] to his [talent]. He could’ve easily made that three, killed them in regulation, and we wouldn’t have been talking about this. But I knew going into overtime, he wasn’t gonna make it. He was taking all the shots. You done played the whole game, bro! And they’ve got guys physically wearing you down. You gonna lose. Giannis was under the same stress but not quite. Giannis got rest and he didn’t have to score every time. KD? He got no rest and pretty much had to put a bucket on the board every time they went down. And he did that, but that’s a lot. If he had a chance to do it all over again he would probably do it the same way. But he ain’t have no more. He shot that last shot and it was shorter than Giannis’ free throw shots. [Laughs.]
Pippen’s commentary clearly touched a nerve for the NBA’s most online superstar, who decided to remind the world of all the times Pippen put himself above the team. First, he called out Pippen taking himself out of the game because Phil Jackson drew up a final shot for Toni Kukoc instead of Pippen (with KD noting it was for “the better shooter”), and then noted that Pippen once rehabbed during a season because he wanted to enjoy his summer — something Pippen admitted to during The Last Dance.
Didn’t the great Scottie pippen refuse to go in the game for the last second shot because he was in his feelings his coach drew up the play for a better shooter??
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) June 24, 2021
This guy Scott also wanted to enjoy his summer so he chose to rehab during the season lol yo @ScottiePippen THEY FOLLOWED PHIL, NOT YOU!!!
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) June 24, 2021
Kevin Durant is always ready with a response and this is some of his best work. The Kukoc, self-benching situation is especially funny because Pippen gets asked about that in the same interview that he criticizes KD for not involving his teammates enough, and explains why he was so mad that he wasn’t given that shot after sitting behind Mike for years in that situation. As for the rehab during the season, Pippen’s “I didn’t want to f*ck up my summer” line is legendary from The Last Dance, but certainly doesn’t help his case here for acting as though he was the superior team player to Durant.