Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen has been taking shots left and right at Michael Jordan ever since ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries came out. His new memoir, Unguarded, is filled with Jordan slander.
However, Pippen also destroys Brooklyn Nets shooting guard James Harden in his book. The six-time champion holds nothing back in his memoir and isn’t afraid to call out current players.
Scottie Pippen on James Harden: ‘Stop dribbling!’
Harden has a tendency to dribble the life out of the ball when he’s on offense, and Pippen hates watching it. There are several times the Beard will dribble for all 24 seconds of the shot clock. He did it a lot when he played for the Houston Rockets, and Pippen couldn’t stand it.
“Sometimes, when I watched Harden play for the Houston Rockets, bouncing the ball up and down, I felt as if my life were passing me by,” Pippen wrote. “I wanted to shout at the TV, ‘For God’s sake, James, stop dribbling!'”
Harden is one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. He’s a three-time scoring champion and a one-time MVP. However, he’s never won a championship, and Pippen isn’t the only legend who has criticized the way he plays. In fact, when Harden was on the Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant said the way the lefty played wouldn’t result in a title.
Kobe Bryant: Rockets can’t win championship with James Harden dominating the ball
Harden averaged 36.1 points in 2018-19. However, the Rockets lost to the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs. One of the best players of all time, Bryant told Rachel Nichols of ESPN in February 2019 that Houston wouldn’t win a title with Harden dominating the ball.
“I don’t think that style is ever going to win championships,” Bryant said. “Not with this style of play. It won’t win with one player dominating the ball.”
Thus far, Pippen and Bryant have been correct in their assessment of Harden. If one player dribbles too much and doesn’t move without the ball, he’s easier to defend, especially in the playoffs.
Harden had a usage percentage of 40.47 in 2018-19, the second-highest in a single season. Ironically, Bryant is third on the list. He had a usage percentage of 38.74 in 2005-06. Because he played with Jordan, Pippen never had a high usage percentage. His highest was 27.1 in 1993-94, the season Jordan played baseball.
It remains to be seen if Harden will win a title as Pippen and Bryant did. The nine-time All-Star hasn’t been efficient on offense through the Nets’ first 12 games of the 2021-22 season. He’s shooting only 40.9% from the field and looks a step slower.
Pippen, who never lost in the Finals with the Bulls, believes Harden needs to get in better shape for the Nets to win it all this season.
Scottie Pippen: Nets can win it all if the Beard gets in shape
“Not if James Harden gets in shape,” Pippen said when asked if the Nets need Irving. “I’m not going to say that they can win without him. He definitely is a guy that can help them. But Kevin Durant right now is an unstoppable player, and we started to see this last year in the playoffs. If he continues on this kind of role and starts to utilize his team a little bit better, I think they can possibly win without him.”
It seems like Harden is always out of shape but still finds a way to score 30 points. That hasn’t been the case so far in 2021-22 as the Nets guard has zero 30-point games.
With that said, it will be interesting to see if Harden gets into better basketball shape as the season moves along and proves Pippen and Bryant wrong.