Scottie Pippen. Hall of Famer. What more needs to be said? With so many tributes that have gone down over the week, I find myself struggling to add anything of note. The man deserves all of the accolades he has received in the past week or so and I would feel empty if I didn’t use this space to give him what little props I could. As I watched the Hall of Fame and read all about him and re-lived my childhood…I thought to myself… there is a generation who will know absolutely nothing about Scottie Pippen.
I’m not sure where the exact line is that divides us but there is a generation that will never see him play. That will never know how great of a basketball player Scottie Pippen is. It’s unfortunate (and scary) but it is sadly a reality. They may know he was Michael Jordan’s sidekick, or he once threw a temper tantrum in the playoffs. Or the failure in Houston. I fear his entire Blazer run will be wiped out as well. A run that, let’s face it, had it not been for Pippen’s guidance and leadership, would not have existed.
The thing about watching Scottie Pippen play is I always admired how smooth he looked on the court. Every move seemed to have a purpose, all blending together to create a smooth symphony on the court. He just seemed to always be in control of things. On a personal note, I learned a lot about the game simply watching him. In middle school, I hated bringing the ball up the court. I didn’t like pressure defense, didn’t understand the art of changing speeds and just generally didn’t like being completely responsible for something while my teammates clapped for the ball. I credit Scottie for teaching me how to bring the ball up the court, there was something about the way he moved the ball from one hand to the other that gave me confidence to go out and try it. He deserves to be remembered.
And from one spectrum to the other, how can we forget about Rasheed Wallace. Hate him or love him, there’s a reason he was #12 on The Oregonian’s list of the top 40 Blazers of all-time. The man deserves his due, whether you want to give it to him or not. I’m sure there are many Blazer fans out there who have attempted to erase the ‘Jail Blazer’ era, and hence the Rasheed Wallace era from their memory. To each their own.
I’m not one of them.
You need a little perspective to see where I’m coming from. As the Drexler Era team faded, crumbled and slowly fell apart, as a little boy I couldn’t help but see the change. The new faces, the new jerseys, the new arena. Drexler, Kersey, Porter, Williams, etc. all gone until Cliff Robinson was the last link to my early childhood. And as he faded away, I searched for a new Blazer to attach my allegiance too. I had too because while I loved the Drexler Blazers, I was at best 5 during their peak, too young to really understand what was going on. For example: during the 92 Finals, I ended up alternating between cheering and tears because I was torn between Jordan and the Blazers.
Back to the story, I chose Sheed. To this day I don’t remember why, but from that day on Sheed was my guy. I remember in middle school I was shorter than Coup and a lot of people I played against, so I’d practice Sheed’s two dribble fadeaway over the right shoulder.A couple years later that leap of faith would pay off as Sheed was an All-Star and the Blazers were one of the top teams in the league. Hearing the crowd yell ‘Sheed’ on those (rare) post ups, or watching as he nailed a clutch three that made the Rose Garden go nuts. That’s what I’m going to remember from Sheed’s career.
What is Sheed’s legacy? Well, it’s going to be the technical fouls, the attitude, the laziness and the fact that he could have been one of the best power forwards to have played this game. This is all true. I remember when Coup was in Boston this year, joining the million C fans in dogging Sheed. I texted him and said ‘wait till the playoffs’ and sure enough Sheed finally showed up in the post-season. To me, that’s the beauty and the beast of Rasheed Wallace. He was so talented that you knew what he was capable of, which either raised your expectations setting you up for disappointment, or lowered them as you braced yourself for the worst.
Whatever you may think of him is fine. I’m gonna miss that guy in the NBA. The dances, the fist pumps, the screaming, the scowls, the championship belts, the fadeaway, the quick three’s, the headband, the gray spot, the whole package.