Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pippen Needs to Get Over "Bad Boy" Pistons

It's been about 20 years since the Pistons did their infamous walk-out on the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, and still Scottie Pippen can't get over it, or the "Bad Boy" Pistons themselves.

Pippen's Bulls won the next three NBA championships, starting in 1991, and eventually six of the next eight from '91 to '98. You'd think all that hardware would help mend Scottie's wounds.

Apparently not.

Pippen is still whining about the Pistons, some two decades after some of their starters walked off the floor before time ran out in Game 4 of the Bulls' sweep.

Pippen recently told the Chicago Sun-Times:

''The Pistons were a nasty team. You always had to expect them to play dirty because, remember, they were the Bad Boys of Motown. They'd go out of their way to be mean and try to hurt you.

"And because we had better athletes, coach Chuck Daly just let them play the way they had to play to win. Bill Laimbeer was no real athlete. The same for Rick Mahorn and Joe Dumars and James Edwards. We were faster, quicker, more competitive and smarter."

The only thing Pippen got right in the above comments was the one about Bill Laimbeer not being much of an athlete. No one in Detroit, though, propped Laimbeer up as athletic. He was, however, one of the best rebounders in the history of the league because of his positioning, technique and, yes Scottie, his basketball IQ.

And do I see Joe Dumars's name in there as being "no real athlete"? That's a lot of Bull.

And let's clear up, once and for all, this misconception of the Pistons being thugs who deliberately tried to hurt you. I think there's a line between aggressive, hard-nosed basketball and thuggery. I seriously doubt that the Pistons played the game with the idea of deliberately hurting opposing players.

If anything, blame the Celtics for the Pistons' style of play.

The Bulls needed four post-seasons before finally beating the Pistons in a playoff series, and the Pistons needed three (1985, '87 and '88) to unseat the Celtics for supremacy in the East. And it was during those rugged playoff series that the Pistons learned the same hard-nosed, physical brand of play that has been misconstrued by the Bulls and other NBA observers as being sadistic.

You think the Celtics of Bird, Parish and McHale were more finesse than physical?


Did the Pistons turn it up a notch in the physicality department? You betcha. But they needed to, in order to finally topple the Celtics.

The Bulls of Pippen and Michael Jordan---that was probably the first time any writer put Pippen's name before MJ's, by the way---were indeed less physical. But it also took them one more try to dispatch the Pistons than it took the Pistons to eliminate the Celtics.

The Bulls' defeat of the Pistons in the 1991 ECF was less about the Bulls' supremacy than it was about the Pistons' fatigue. The Pistons had played into late-May or June since 1987. They came off another brutal series with the Celtics in the '91 East semis, and the Pistons simply hit the wall. They had nothing left.

I find it amusing but also annoying that Pippen and others still whine about the Pistons, even after 20 years and after all those Bulls championships. It's too bad that all that success, and time, hasn't enabled Scottie Pippen to soften a little and be more philosophical than psychotic about those "good old days" of Pistons-Bulls basketball.

Get over it, Scottie. The Pistons are still in your head, and it's pretty pathetic.

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