February 11, 2011
Former Chicago Bull, Houston Rocket, Portland Trail Blazer, and, er, Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen is no fan of the Miami Heat. Or ABC/ESPN sometimes-analyst Jeff Van Gundy. Or Jeff Van Gundy being a fan of the Miami Heat.
In an interview with SLAM's Adam Figman, Pip got right to the point, after you hopefully excuse his word, on his prospects for the Miami Heat.
SLAM: You came out on the winning end of that "Will the Heat win 72 games?" discussion. How'd you know it'd be so tough for them to win so many games?
SP: I just felt it was an insult to every team that's played in this League to think that one team can be put together, and now all of a sudden we got -- excuse my word -- a jackass like Jeff Van Gundy saying they can win 72 games and break the Bulls' record. Who is he? So that was just something that he totally took out of proportion, to some degree -- with respect to those two players, or I would say two and a half players, since I don't think Chris Bosh(notes) is half the player of LeBron James(notes). But there's no way those guys are gonna break any type of record. I don't think they can break the franchise record in Miami, or the state of Florida, I should say.
Well, I should say! (This is where I fan myself because Scottie used a rude word.)
Full disclosure demands that I point out that I predicted 70 wins for the Heat this season, fully aware of what it takes to be a 70-game winner in this league after having watched (and re-watched, and re-watched, and re-watched) Scottie and his Bulls win 141 games over two years between 1995 and 1997.
LeBron James has always been the ultimate regular-season player, take that for what it's worth to you, and I was coming off watching the Boston Celtics play .500 ball to close the second half of 2009-10, and the Orlando Magic stink the bed in that year's postseason. I thought the Heat would eat up the wins, but with injuries and a slow start, Miami is only on pace for a 60-win season.
But even that is pretty close to beating Miami's franchise record, there, Scottie. Sixty-one wins, from back in 1997. And 60 wins is Orlando's all-time best, set in 1996. As the Heat get healthier and the faces become more familiar, look for Miami to pick it up.
Pip might be wrong about the all-time records, but check out the years I just listed above. When the Bulls were piling up 69 wins in 1997, Miami put together 61 in the same conference. Same for 72 for Chicago the year before, and 60 for Orlando (even playing without an injured Shaquille O'Neal(notes) for six weeks). That's some pretty stiff competition, so you can see why Pippen chafes at us handing a coronation to the Miami Heat before they've done a damn thing.
Then again, Scottie, they asked both Jeff and myself. And we answered. And KG barely looked like he could walk last year ...