Scottie Pippen is like Kevin Garnett: he has no time for anyone who claims LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan. But Pip has one major difference in his argument against Isiah Thomas claiming that LeBron is better than Jordan because Pippen thinks the former on-court rival is letting his personal differences get in the way of evaluating the two players’ legacies.
Last month, Thomas said on NBA TV that he’d pick LeBron over Jordan if forced to pick, examining their “total body of work” and choosing the Cavaliers superstar. The analysis seemed reasonable enough, unless you disagree with the conclusion. Pippen, however, clearly does.
Jordan’s former teammate was asked about those comments Friday during ESPN’s The Jump and Pippen accused Thomas of arguing in bad faith because he’s “hating” on Jordan. He began the segment, first and foremost, by basically disavowing everything Isiah Thomas has ever said or done.
“I don’t agree with nothing Zeke ever said,” Pippen said. “I don’t even agree with nothing he ever did.”
The full video is below, and it sounds as flatly dismissive out of Pippen’s mouth as it does on the screen.
“You know what, I find that comment there just hating. I’ve never seen this guy embrace or thank Michael Jordan for what he did for our game, done for our league. Done for all the kids out here in terms of basketball.
Michael Jordan was the greatest to ever put on shoes and play in our game. No doubt about it.”
Tracy McGrady was there for the debate as well, though he mostly took Thomas’ side and got in a nice Kermit-Sipping-Tea face while Pip went off on his former on-court rival.
For his part, Pippen did offer a compelling argument for Jordan’s greatness over LeBron, noting how differently the two are asked to play in their respective eras.
“I’m always asked to compare him to LeBron, I try to make the best of it. But really the comparison shouldn’t ever be made. They both play two different positions. The way LeBron James plays? Michael Jordan was never asked to play that way. Because I took that away from him. I was the point forward. I was the facilitator. Michael Jordan was a scorer. He was a defender. He played the game as complete as LeBron James did when he needed to. But he was asked to score the basketball and that’s what he was great at.”
Pippen said he couldn’t pick anyone over his former teammate.
“There was no game I would ever play in where I’d pick LeBron James over Michael Jordan,” Pippen concluded. “Not if I’m trying to win.”
His harsh words for Thomas make it clear that the Bulls-Pistons rivalry is still very much alive. It will be interesting to see if Thomas has anything to say about Pippen’s own “hating” the next time he’s on the air.