Scottie Pippen, NBA Free Agent?
Scottie Pippen, long time Chicago Bulls player and one of the 50 greatest in NBA history, wants to come out of retirement and play for a contender. He recently stated that he is in great shape (5% body fat, which, if true, is pretty amazing) and has been training for months. At age 41, Pippen is looking to play between 10 and 20 minutes a game for the final two months of the season and into the playoffs.
It is hardly uncommon for retired athletes to come out of retirement. Michael Jordan, Mario Lemieux, and Sugar Ray Leonard are some greats that went back for a second helping in their respective sports. Each of these players remained productive in their returns as well. Pippen has undoubtedly seen that players can come out of retirement and compete.
However, Pippen is 41. Those guys came back when they still had some good years left in them. It is safe to say that Scottie is long past his prime.
I’m not sure if a team will give him a chance. Two of the teams which many analysts say Scottie would fit in at are the Bulls and the Lakers. Both could use some veteran leadership for their playoffs runs and have ties to Pippen’s past. Pippen played for 12 years with the Bulls, many of those years under Phil Jackson, the current coach of the Lakers.
While I would love to see Pippen come back to the league and contribute, I have a hard time seeing it actually happen. The best parts of his game were his defense and versatility. He cannot be the same defender he once was, especially considering he was an average defender at best when he left the league the first time. His versatility might still be there to some extent. He would be able to bring the ball up and play the point forward roll, but past that he would not be much help. He is not a great shooter and doesn’t have the explosiveness to blow past people anymore.
If Scottie wants to help a team, it should be as a coach and not a player. He has leadership skills, but I can’t imagine he has the basketball skills to match. In the words of Charles Barkley, “You retire because you can’t play anymore. You don’t get better sitting at home. You might feel better, but you don’t get better.”