Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen is living his best life right now. He has a book coming out soon and is using the promotion of his new bourbon to throw massive shade toward Kevin Durant while praising LeBron James.
Pippen doesn’t believe Durant has surpassed LeBron as the best player in the NBA despite putting up incredible numbers in the 2021 playoffs for the Brooklyn Nets. While the Bulls icon recognizes Durant’s stellar scoring skills, he thinks the two-time Finals MVP “still has some learning to do” if he wants to become better than LeBron.
Scottie Pippen: Kevin Durant hasn’t surpassed LeBron James
In two separate interviews, Pippen said LeBron is still a better player than Durant despite the latter averaging 34.3 points in the 2021 postseason against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks. The Bulls champion believes the Nets star tried to do too much in the Bucks series after Kyrie Irving got hurt.
“Surpassing LeBron James takes a little bit more than an individual’s effort. LeBron James is a complete team player who understands team and winning,” Pippen told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “Has KD gotten to that level yet? He went home. To say that he’s surpassed LeBron, I think he still has some learning to do in terms of what it takes to will a team to victory.”
That’s what Pippen had to say while he wasn’t drinking his new bourbon. In a more wide-ranging interview with Tyler R. Tynes of GQ while sipping on his bourbon, Pippen expanded on the key differences between LeBron and Durant.
“LeBron James knows team basketball better than KD,” Pippen said. “KD can score better than LeBron, probably always have been able to. But has he surpassed LeBron? Naw. He tried to beat the Milwaukee Bucks instead of utilizing his team. You see what I’m saying? LeBron James would’ve figured out how to beat them and he wouldn’t have been exhausted and he may not have taken the last shot. But LeBron ain’t KD, and KD ain’t LeBron. KD is a shooter, a scorer. But he doesn’t have what LeBron has.”
Casual basketball followers must be wondering where Pippen’s comments are stemming from. The Hall of Famer wasn’t impressed by Durant’s final shot in Game 7 against the Bucks in overtime.
Scottie Pippen doesn’t think LeBron James would have taken a bad shot as Kevin Durant did in Game 7
With the Nets down 113-111 in overtime in Game 7 against the Bucks, Durant took a tough shot over Jrue Holiday from the top of the key and shot an airball. He was clearly tired after playing more than 50 minutes. However, Pippen believes the former Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors star wasn’t being smart.
“But, have you ever seen LeBron take a shot like that? He ain’t gonna take that shot. He’s gonna be smarter,” Pippen told GQ. “He’s gonna force a double team. That’s what KD wasn’t able to do. He was so exhausted he couldn’t even go to the bucket.”
LeBron has the most buzzer-beaters in playoff history. However, he’s rarely ever forced a bad shot as Durant did against the Bucks.
The King has drawn a double-team and kicked it out to a wide-open shooter several times during crunch time, with the latest one coming in Game 5 of the 2020 Finals against the Miami Heat. Although Danny Green missed the open shot, it was still the right basketball play by LeBron, and it appears Pippen would have liked to see Durant follow that style of play against the Bucks.
Bulls legend hasn’t been shy to speak his mind lately
After going after Durant, Pippen took a not-so-subtle shot at Irving, who played with LeBron for three years on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls great said LBJ won the 2016 Finals without another star by his side, which is obviously incorrect.
Irving averaged 27.1 points in the 2016 Finals against the Warriors and hit the game-winning shot in Game 7 over Stephen Curry. LeBron won Finals MVP after putting up 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game, but he got tons of help from Irving, and it’s strange to see Pippen not acknowledge that.
Pippen must be having a field day enjoying his new bourbon and angering certain parts of NBA Twitter following his takes on LeBron, Durant, and Irving. When you have six championships and are one of the greatest 50 players of all time, you can certainly afford to have some fun trolling the current stars.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.