August 10, 2010
If you've never read David Halberstam's "Playing for Keeps" or Sam Smith's "The Jordan Rules" — both about the 1990s Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan, duh, and both essential — then you might not know how much Michael Jordan hated Scottie Pippen early in their careers.
Jordan realized Pippen's immense talent, maybe even before Pippen did, and seeing Scottie's inability to mold and develop those game-changing skills infuriated Jordan. He saw Pippen as mentally weak, soft and basically a disappointment. Then Scottie Pippen became one of the best players in the NBA, the Bulls won titles and Jordan accepted Pippen as a legit superstar, forming a bond the two would have through the rest of their lives. That's a YertNotes version of the Jordan and Pippen saga, but that's the gist of it and you're the one who didn't read two of the best basketball books ever written. Deal with it.
Anyhow, now that we're all hip to the history behind the greatest duo of the 1990s, we can talk about how cool it is that Jordan will be giving the introduction speech for Pippen's Hall of Fame induction this Friday. Hint: it's George Clooney cool.
"I can't think of a better person to do it," said Pippen on Monday. "Michael is someone I shared my career with, accomplishing most of what I have accomplished thus far. He was a great teammate, teacher and admirer. I'm excited to have an opportunity to be the first person that he has presented into the Hall of Fame. I figure if anyone deserves to be on the stage with me, it's him." [...]
Pippen said Jordan was "thrilled and overwhelmed" by the invitation. [...]
"I had other guys that I thought about, but Michael was by far the obvious choice and an easy one for me to make," said Pippen.
So perfect, you guys. Like Scottie said, it's "by far the obvious choice" and an "easy one," but it's still the right one. So happy.
It's just good on so many levels. Pippen finally getting his moment in the spotlight and being honored by Jordan after years of being the second fiddle is really, really cool. I wish there were a more eloquent way I could say this, but the 7-year-old me is freaking out right now, and the 26-year-old version isn't reacting much differently. Totally radical, dude.
Of course, with Jordan returning to the scene of his final score-settling there's a little danger in giving him the microphone first so he can bust like a bubble. But honestly, I don't see that being a problem. Even when Jordan was taking shots at each and every person who ever wronged him at any point in his life, he had nothing but kind words for Pippen. Scottie's a guy he really cares for, and if his heartfelt performance when the Bulls honored Johnny "Red" Kerr is any indication of how he'll act Friday, then this will go smoothly. I'm not even that worried about Jordan wearing mom jeans. I'll let it slide this time.
Seriously, guys, Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan sharing a stage. They're great. That's great. Great.
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