Scottie Pippen has always been my favorite player.
The number 33 gets me excited.
I turn the volume up to 33 for good luck during the game.
I watch vids of him dunking on Ewing to pump me up before I teach school.
Defensive intensity like no one else.
And that voice……..
Man crush? Maybe….and proud of it (my wife knows). I grew up watching the best NBA team ever…
F A C T
and although MJ is the all time greatest, most of the time I was watching Pippen. My room had a Jordan poster….and 20 Pippen posters. When we played hoops afterschool, I was Jason Pippen (even though Jason Jordan would have had a better ring to it).
Pippen’s style of play, like Jordans, was a pleasure to watch, because it always stood for what I love most about basketball, and the Bulls……
Heart. Hustle. Muscle. And…….. WILL POWER.
Watching these guys play was like school, but watching them impose their will power on others teams, was simply amazing. The confidence was so great, the will so powerful, that I am sure many a team were beaten as soon as they stepped into the building….hell, as they drove into Chicago. That kind of will is a rare thing to see in the NBA today. It’s rare in general.
There are great players today. There is great coaching today. Freakish athletes abound.
But what about the will to win?
I don’t see it often in the league today. Specific players that can use will power and desire to actually win games, and make the other players much, much better.
Le Bron and will in the same sentence? Hardly.
But Pippen and Jordan had that indomitable will. They simply could not be dominated on the court. They might have lost a few close ones, and mailed in a few, but you could not out-will that team, so the results during the dynasty, even when it got tight, were predictable. You KNEW they were going to win. Jordan has the flu? Win. Pippen was out, Win. Backs against the wall in the playoffs with bad reffing, Win. (ok, we got a lot of calls, but we WILLED that too, and I’m not joking)
Fast forward to THIS Bulls team over the last few years.
Yes……that’s right. Search your feelings, you know it be true. Use the force……
Derrick Rose has that will.
He came into the league and learned very quickly how to impose his will on other players and teams. Like Scottie, and like MJ, Rose takes will and desire to another level, and makes the players around him better, and better.
Derrick Rose can impose his will on the game. Injury or not, this is a skill he can use the day of surgery, or his first game back…it’s like being an NBA Jedi, you can do more….even with less. And the glory of it all?
Not many players can do it. Hardly any players can do it!
We know he can do it, because he has. He manifested 2 seasons with league high wins, imposing his will on every NBA team, and their top players.
That is why, for some strange reason, while walking the dog last night in the Colorado snow, a reoccurring thought returned to me.
Rose needs a Pippen.
(No, Rose is not MJ, or even Pippen….no one is, but MJ and Pips)
BUT, what made the Bulls teams so massively totally amazing and super awesome (forgive me, I’m biased, like most fans, but barring all of that, we know those teams were special, even if you were a …oh dear god…a Piston’s fan).
..what made them great was that their premiere player, Michael Jordan, had the best possible complimentary player for his equal sidekick…or as I feel, his equal.
They practiced harder against each other…and the team followed suit.
They played harder o the court because of each other…and the team followed suit.
They used each other, great players, as motivation to make themselves greater…..as if they had to.
But they DID! And it was impressive.
I don’t think there is anything cheesy or formulaic about looking at the successful blueprint of the 90s Bulls, and trying to take some inspiration from it. As they say in the music and art world….”Don’t borrow, steal. “ Make it yours.
Rose needs a Pippen.
We need a willful player with some great skill, that can be Rose’s Pippen. His complimentary player, not for the needs of the team, but SPECIFICALLY chosen to match Rose’s skill set, desire, and somewhat ability (of course MJ was better than Pippen). This player can elevate Rose’s game, by challenging, competing with, and complimenting his game.
You do not need another team to motivate you. But most NBA teams do. Le Bron needs to get riled up, mad at another player, on another team, to take it to another level. Same with Wade. Same with most of the NBA.
Pippen and Jordan didn’t. They didn’t need someone from another team to motivate them to play harder than anyone….
They had each other. Even in games, they were playing against each other, while playing at the highest level with each other. And if someone pissed them off, it was icing on the cake, and a guaranteed 30-point beat down win. That’s how you get those wins, these drubbings, because top players are still challenging themselves. A 20-point lead is not enough. You just don’t see that much anymore in today’s NBA.
But we can. The Bulls can. Derrick Rose still has his BEST basketball ahead of him. I am sure of it. But spending money alone isn’t the answer. You have to take a long look at the NBA, who is out there, and who really would compliment Derrick, the way Pippen complimented MJ. It’s not just a talent thing; it's a vibe thing. A character thing.
A BIG character thing.
Which may be harder than finding skill that can compliment Rose, would be an elite player (or one that is turning into an elite player) that has the HEART part of this equation. It’s that massive heart that right now, many people re questioning in Derrick.
And that’s a shame. As he does, playing or not, represent the best about pro basketball in almost every way…no, in every way. Especially Heart. Family. WILL.
So, who will we find that will be this Pippen for Rose?
Hell, we have Scottie working with the team, have him work with the player we find to fill this role; seriously.
Of course, a team needs a lot of pieces to fall into place. We have a great coach; though we need to take a page from Phi Jackson’s zen zone and unorthodox approach to coaching. Thibs biggest weakness is that he is an inside the box thinker…completely inside the box. I guarantee he doesn’t color outside the lines.
We have great players around Rose already. Character people, with great talent and basketball IQ.
Everyone in the organization is on this same journey. Everyone is learning.
Which player out there, or already on this team, will be the one to compliment Derrick on this journey?
Shout it from the mountaintops. Rose needs a Pippen.
Release the scouts, the hounds, and the bench baggage. Rose needs a Pippen.
Derrick will be back, and he will be a beast. Rose needs a Pippen.
Someone make an online petition or call management. Rose needs a Pippen.
And no, this won’t be easy. Cause, Pippen’ ain’t easy……..but I think it is the most important thing this team could do, that would bring many rings to Chicago.
Rose, needs a Pippen.