Scottie Pippen shows he's still got it
“It was a lot of fun being out there,” said Pippen. “I wasn’t looking to do anything but catch and shoot. I wasn’t even thinking about driving because it would have been too tempting.” (Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Adam Fluck | 02.19.2011
In case anyone was wondering, yes, Scottie Pippen has still got it.
The Hall of Famer showed he can still play, scoring a game-high 17 points as his East team defeated the West 54-49 in the 2011 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on Friday in Los Angeles.
“No chance,” Pippen laughed. “It’s too much on my body because of the way that I played. I still don’t know how to tone it down. I’m getting better now that I’ve been away from the game for a few years, but you do miss playing at that high level.”
While Pippen’s points all came from the perimeter, his third quarter block of teen pop star Justin Bieber was among the night’s most memorable moments.
Bieber claimed MVP honors thanks to strong support via the text messaging vote, but he stood little chance when attempting to put up a jumper over the 6-8 Pippen.
“I’m not even sure you can consider it a block because the ball never left his hand,” recalled Pippen, who offered no apologies to the undersized singing sensation. “He must not have seen me there. I don’t even think my feet left the ground. I turned around and the next thing I know, he was trying to put up a shot. I was going to give him some room, but I guess he thought he was open. But he wasn’t.”
Pippen said he got one workout in last week at the Berto Center to prepare for the game. Other than that, playing basketball is a thing of the past for him, although he regularly works with his three sons—Scotty, Preston and Justin—to develop their games.
“It was a lot of fun being out there,” said Pippen of Friday. “I wasn’t looking to do anything but catch and shoot. I wasn’t even thinking about driving because it would have been too tempting.”
Pippen is still at the same weight from his playing days, 225 pounds, and keeps in shape mostly through a healthy diet with some running and conditioning. And while he didn’t take Friday’s game too seriously, he admitted it was nice to play well.
“It’s a great feeling to watch the ball fly through the hoop,” said Pippen. “You hear the crowd cheering and that’s something that never gets old.”
Magic Johnson was not among those cheering.
“He thinks it’s 1991, the Bulls versus the Lakers or something,” lamented Johnson, who was coaching the West team, during the game. “Hey Scottie, slow down!”
Pippen did slow down when WNBA star Swim Cash got the ball in the post and easily worked her way around him. The defensive indifference, if you will, prompted East coach Bill Walton to call a timeout. He couldn’t believe that a defender of Pippen’s abilities could be so careless.
“I told him, ‘Bill, it’s impolite to block a lady’s shot,” remarked Pippen.
Earlier in the day, Pippen received some encouraging news when the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that former Bulls forward Dennis Rodman is among the 12 players, coaches, contributors, officials and teams considered for election in 2011.
Pippen has gone on record in supporting Rodman for enshrinement, something he reiterated on Saturday.
“Dennis should be a lock,” said Pippen, who added he was disappointed and surprised Reggie Miller was not among the lists of finalists. “The career that he had and his numbers speak volumes. It’s about winning and what he did on the court, which was rebounding and defensive excellence. The fact that Dennis was on five NBA championship teams carries a lot of weight."
Pippen will attend Sunday’s All-Star Game when Derrick Rose gets the start at point guard for the Eastern Conference—the first Bulls player to start since Michael Jordan in 1998. And while he’s excited about that accomplishment, he knows that there are bigger things ahead for Chicago.
“I know Derrick will do well, but the second half of the season is the real focus,” said Pippen. “But it’s going to be one of the more exciting All-Star games. It’s been awhile since we have had this many young stars in the league. Besides Derrick, you have guys like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin. It’s going to be fun to watch.”