In Gotham City, Batman would occasionally need Robin’s help to defeat crime. In the movie “Top Gun,” Maverick needed Iceman to accomplish his mission.
In the NBA, Michael Jordan became a champion with a big assist from Scottie Pippen.
With Pippen as his wingman, Jordan won six NBA championships and six Finals MVPs with the Chicago Bulls. Pippen was the Robin to Jordan’s Batman. He was the ultimate No. 2 option to basketball’s No. 1 option. He was the perfect complement to the man many consider as the G.O.A.T.
Whenever Jordan needed help on offense, Pippen willingly shouldered some of the burden. During the Bulls’ championship run in the 1990s, it was Pippen who initiated and ran Phil Jackson’s triangle offense in Chicago.
Whenever Jordan needed help on defense, it was Pippen who often drew the assignment of guarding the other team’s best scorer to keep Jordan from getting into foul trouble.
And when Jordan was sick and needed someone to pick him up, Pippen was there to pick him up. During Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, Jordan was so sick he barely had the strength to return to the bench. Who was there to help him? Pippen.
You can’t mention Jordan’s accomplishments without giving credit to his famous sidekick.
Pippen will finally got his due when he gets officially enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 13, a HOF class that includes Karl Malone, Bob Hurley Sr., Cynthia Cooper and the late Dennis Johnson.
Pippen certainly deserved to be a Hall-of-Famer. He was a seven-time NBA All-Star, an eight-time member of the NBA’s all-defensive team, won six championship rings, a member of the Dream Team in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team.
As the leading man, Pippen also took two teams – the 1994 Bulls and the 2000 Portland Trail Blazers – to the conference finals. Jordan never got past the conference semifinals without Pippen.
The former Central Arkansas standout was one of the most versatile players in the league history. He played four positions on offense and was a very capable scorer. He could drive to the basket at will and finish with either hand, and when defenders backed off he made himself into a decent 3-point shooter.
Defense was Pippen’s calling card. With the exception of Bill Russell, Pippen could very well be the greatest defensive player in league history. His lengthy 6-foot-8 frame allowed him to guard any perimeter player. When the Bulls needed a stopper in the 1991 NBA Finals against the Lakers’ 6-9 point guard Magic Johnson, Jackson summoned Pippen to stifle the leader of Showtime. And he did.
In Jackson’s defensive scheme, Pippen was the shutdown corner and Jordan was the free safety.
Though no one will ever question who was better between Jordan or Pippen, the fact remains that Jordan never won a championship without Pippen. To bring home the trophy, you need a good wingman. Just like Magic needed Kareem, Bird needed McHale, West needed Wilt and Shaq needed Kobe.
They do make a good Wingman!