There’s nothing that lights up a room of hoopheads quite like saying someone is better than Michael Jordan. That sentiment is typically met with a three-step response. First, the listener will be in shock. “What? Are you $%^&*@ serious!!” Next will come the denials and name calling. “Scottie Pippen is an idiot! He’s jealous of MJ!!” And finally, it’ll be amusement. People will start laughing at the foolishness. Back in May, immediately following LeBron James‘ destruction of Chicago in the Eastern Conference Finals, Scottie Pippen did the unthinkable and said LeBron could one day develop into a better all-around player than the greatest ever. Blasphemy! We thought he was angry, a spurned lover. Emotional. But he clarified himself again at the NBA 2K12 launch party, saying even LeBron’s flameout in the Finals has done nothing to make him change his position. Pippen thinks James will probably go down as the greatest ever after all the years he will put in, but threw the word “statistically” in there. Interesting. What if LeBron ends up with all of the best numbers ever by the time his career is over, and then has maybe two rings on his fingers. Would he have a case to say he was the best ever? It’s a long way off, but it is something to think about … Pippen also said he was thankful for the 1998 lockout because he needed the time off to mend some battle wounds. It’s always a tricky line with these vets. Some of them you think will come back looking three years younger, others will be three years older … As we wrote in Smack yesterday, Robert Horry was at the same 2K12 launch party and compared himself to Rudy Gay. He also spoke gospel on the NBA lockout, saying he feels for the NBA employees who are out of jobs in this economy. When he lived through the last lockout, he said it was an unbelievable feeling seeing Jordan, who was recently retired, still coming to the meetings and showing support for the players. The man was nervous about where the game was heading, and the state he had left it in. Now Jordan is an owner, and it’s fascinating to think about whose side he’s on. Horry simply said: “Once a player, always a player.” Plus, back in 1998-99, the lockout was tough, but this one is different because players have the overseas option. Horry wasn’t even thinking about that during the last work stoppage, and because it’s in the cards now, there’s probably less of an emphasis to get a deal done. Sure everyone wants one done, but in the meantime, you can still make a little money. Ask Avery Bradley. He just signed with Hapoel Jerusalem. The contract includes an out. You gotta feel bad for this dude. Remember when he was rated above John Wall in high school? It feels like he hasn’t seen the court in two years. He never played as a rookie. Then the lockout hit … And speaking of MJ, he sat down with ESPN to talk NBA 2K12, and how he wishes Barkley was in the game just so people could see him before he turned fat … As far as the lockout goes, there were reports yesterday that Rip Hamilton was going to break with his agent Leon Rose if Rose continues to support a group of agents whose views are considered “anti-union.” Chauncey Billups said the same thing after his agent Andy Miller welcomed decertification. On his part, Hamilton answered the rumors and said the report was “100% UNTRUE”. While many of the agents have pushed for decertification, their meeting yesterday was said to be in support of Billy Hunter and the NBAPA. They say they met to find out how they could best help out. This comes after a “warning letter” Derek Fisher intercepted from the agents that seemed to be very “anti-union.” … Ken Berger of CBSSports.com tweeted: People understand what’s happening, right? The table is set for a deal to be agreed to by Sunday. If either side messes it up, inexcusable. Sounds great, but there’s no one out there right now who’s more optimistic than Berger. Everyone else thinks it’s going to get really messy. The one ray of sunlight is reportedly some of the owners and a few select players broached a 50/50 split of basketball related income. Alas, the players said that wasn’t going to work … We’re all for seeing ladies like Hope Solo on the cover of ESPN’s Nudie Issue. But Blake Griffin? C’mon now. That’s a lot different than what Serge Ibaka did last year because at least dude had on a little bit. We’re just not used to seeing dudes go completely bare … You want a beastly box score? Check out what Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus did last night to lead the Lynx to within one win of the WNBA championship: 36 points, 11-14 from the field, 13-16 from the line … And look who’s playing beer pong: Joakim Noah. We wonder if his shot is ridiculously ugly and has bad rotation … RIP Steve Jobs … We’re out like LeBron in pads.
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