Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Bleachers Brew #450: An assist for Scottie Pippen

On the occasion of my 450th column for Business Mirror, I throw an assist to one of my fave basketball players. This appears on the Monday, August 3, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

An assist for Scottie Pippen
by rick olivares

That Instagram debate between Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen started out as hilarious but ended with the former taking it very personally.

He can dish it but can’t take it.

Since Pip wasn’t known to talk trash he sort of backed down after attracting such vitriol from the Big Fella.

Okay, here’s how it all started, Shaq posted a pic with five Los Angeles Lakers – Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and himself say beating their Chicago Bulls counterparts of Derrick Rose, Michael Jordan, Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Horace Grant. By 50 points!

Yes, the Lakers could beat the Bulls but not always and certainly not by 50 points.

The first thing one has to note is the Hall of Famers on either side. The Lakers have more and Kobe will no doubt make it as soon as he becomes eligible.

The Bulls have three. The jury’s out on Rose with all his injuries. Grant will not make it.

Offensively, the Lakers have three of the ten greatest NBA scorers of all-time. And to think that Wilt Chamberlain was left out…. Oh my, Lord! Nevertheless, offensively, LA looks overpowering. However, there is only one basketball and that will have to be shared by all the players on either squad. Someone’s stats will surely go down.

Here is where Pippen can make a case for himself (since he really wasn’t known for his trash talking).

Scottie knows a thing of two about carrying a team.
When Pippen carried the Chicago Bulls from 1993 to a portion of 1995 (without Michael Jordan), his Bulls went 3-3 against O’Neal’s Orlando Magic.

Scottie averaged 25.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 6.3 assists in those six matches in that span. He came close to winning the league MVP Award in 1994 but received the All-Star Game MVP honors that same season (he tallied 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists in the match held at the Target Center in Minnesota).

So no, Scottie can carry a team.

Shaq showed that video clip of Kobe’s crossover on Pippen that led to his dunk. Sure… but he conveniently left this out (check on this YouTube video). You might make a case that Kobe was still a young player then. But I thought that hypotheticals were out of the window. Check out “pippen 1on1 kobe” on YouTube.

Hey, defense wins games. And championships too.
Furthermore, Shaq conveniently forgets that defense wins championships. Between those five Laker are a combined 26 first and second team All-Defense citations. Magic Johnson wasn’t known for his defense and it is unfortunate that All-Defensive team honors were not given until the 1968-69 season which around that time, Baylor’s career was winding down.

The Bulls have 31 citations between themselves with Rose not making it to any of the first or second teams.

While the Lakers’ frontline looks overpowering not to mention much taller, it isn’t solely about height. Check out how Dennis Rodman successfully defended Shaq in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals and later on while the Big Diesel was with LA.

Furthermore, Shaq’ defensive rep/dominance was made by beating up on teams with centers like Rik Smits (Indiana in 2000), 34-year old Dikembe Mutombo (Philadelphia in 2001), and the great Todd McCulloch (New Jersey in 2002).

Against top centers near or in their prime like Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston in the 1995 NBA Finals), Tim Duncan/David Robinson (San Antonio in the 1999 Western Conference Semifinals) and Ben Wallace (Detroit in the 2004 NBA Finals), his teams went a combined 1-12. Now, Olajuwon and Robinson are Hall of Famers and Duncan will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial one day. Ben Wallace? He was darn good for a few years. He didn’t have the offense of Horace Grant and Rodman was more gifted offensively but he was a solid slotman for Detroit that won it with defense.

During the 1997-98 seasons, they went 1-8 against the Utah Jazz that had Greg Ostertag and Greg Foster at center.

So, yes, sir. Defense wins championships and oh, check out “Dennis Rodman schools and Destroys Shaq” on YouTube.

And oh, Shaq’s Lakers chalked up a huge assist from the Chicago Bulls.
And lastly, Pip might want to make a case that Shaq’s Lakers didn’t win anything until they brought over former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson. Didn’t win one after Pat Riley. Haven’t won since the Zen Master skipped town.

Furthermore, aside from the coaching staff of Jackson, Tex Winter, and Frank Hamblen, they also imported a bunch of Bulls who won titles in Chi-town to help them – Ron Harper, John Salley, and Horace Grant. So who’s your daddy now, Shaq?

For the record, I believe Shaq is one of the top players ever to grace the NBA’s hardcourt. So this isn’t a diatribe against the Diesel who I admire as well.

Yes, the Lakers will be heavy favorites to beat that Bulls five. They probably will. Certainly not by 50 and not all the time. Besides, do you want to bet against a man named Michael Jordan?

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