When LeBron James rejected Scottie Pippen’s suggestion that he could surpass Michael Jordan

The NBA GOAT debate involving LA Lakers forward LeBron James and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan continues to be an ongoing discussion. For years, a strong majority of NBA fans had Jordan as the GOAT. However, the gap between Jordan and James has since narrowed for many as the latter continues to produce at the elite level at the age of 38.

James even declared himself a GOAT after his 3-1 comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors. However, there was a point in time when the star striker didn’t even consider that there was a real possibility for him to surpass Jordan.

Back in 2011, Michael Jordan’s former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen made a bold claim. Pippen said LeBron James could one day be better than Jordan.

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James was just 26 at the time and had yet to win his first NBA title. Of course, he wasn’t even close to surpassing Jordan on the NBA’s all-time top scorers list. As such, James was quick to dismiss Pippen’s comments, although he was flattered.

“I am merciful. Humbled by Scottie’s comments, especially as he is a teammate of his and sees Michael on a daily basis. But as for me, I’m not going to sit here and say I’m better than Jordan. I’m no better than Jordan,” James said.

LeBron James and his Miami Heat would lose 2-4 to Dallas shortly after his comments in the NBA Finals. Since then, however, James has won four titles and overtaken Jordan in all-time standings, proving that Pippen’s prediction may have been justified.

Click here to read more about the evolution of the GOAT debate between LeBron James and Michael Jordan here.

Scottie Pippen says Michael Jordan ruined the game of basketball

Chicago Bulls legends Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen
Chicago Bulls legends Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen

As for why Scottie Pippen wasn’t always a staunch supporter of Michael Jordan, most believe it has to do with pent-up hostility. Pippen and Jordan teamed with Chicago to win six titles in the 1990s. Most of the credit, however, went to Jordan.

Pippen grew increasingly dissatisfied following his performance in Jordan’s 2020 documentary The Last Dance. In his memoir Unguarded, released in 2021, Pippen had some strong words regarding his former teammate.

Scottie Pippen first stated that Michael Jordan could have ruined the basketball game.

“I might go so far as to say that Mike ruined basketball,” Pippen said.

He added:

“In the ’80s everyone on the pitches was moving the ball around – passing to help the team. That stopped in the 90s. Children wanted to be “like Mike”. Well, Mike didn’t want to pass – didn’t want to rebound or defend the best player. He wanted everything to be done for him.”

Michael Jordan “RUINS” basketball, claims former Chicago Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen trib.al/sKwXuRO

Pippen then reiterated his stance that he always believed LeBron James was the GOAT.

“That’s why I’ve always believed that LeBron James is the greatest player this game has ever seen – he does it all and embodies what the game is really about,” continued Pippen.

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All in all, Pippen’s take on the GOAT debate seems a bit clouded by ulterior motives.

Also Read: LeBron James-Michael Jordan Comparison Ship ‘Sailed’ Because Jordan Has Better Peak Performance, Says NBA Analyst

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Edited by Shubham Banerjee

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