Pippen relates to Westbrook: ‘I was the happiest man alive’ when Jordan left

Posted: 13/02/2017 in NBA, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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Scottie Pippen is on the list of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, but he never had a chance to be “the guy” until Michael Jordan’s first retired in 1993 to pursue a professional baseball career.

When asked about Russell Westbrook on ESPN’s “The Jump with Rachel Nichols” on Tuesday, he likened his situation with the Chicago Bulls in 1993 to what the Thunder superstar is experiencing without Kevin Durant.

“I was the happiest man alive,” Pippen told Nichols. “I got a chance to be the man for a change. It’s something that you embrace as a player, especially when you’re in a position where you’re probably not going to get that spotlight, like myself playing with Michael. So when he was retired, I was very happy, but I did want him to come back.”

Pippen was as competitive a player as there was in the grind-it-out era of the NBA in the 1990s, but even he can admit that the honeymoon of being the go-to guy on a team can only last so long – you need that sidekick.

“Going through those two years, I started to get a little bit sad,” Pippen said. “But (Jordan) saw it and decided to come back.”

Jordan returned to the Bulls after a season-and-a-half, and proceeded to lead Chicago to three more championships from 1996-1998.

While Pippen missed his buddy, and the freedom of having arguably the best player ever beside him, he was no slouch as his team’s best player. In 135 games without Jordan, he averaged 22 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.9 steals, while shooting 48 percent from the field.

But it wasn’t just stats Pippen was putting up. He led the Bulls to 55 wins in 1993-94, and believes Westbrook has the ability to achieve the same success.

“In this situation with Westbrook, he’s embracing the opportunity of really leading his team, getting the triple-doubles,” he said. “And they’re getting wins.”

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