Scottie Pippen Wished He Could Have Played With Kobe Bryant During His Career: ‘He Was a Great Student of the Game and He Would Ask Me Questions About How Would I Guard Michael and Just Trying to Improve His Craft’
Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen won six championships in the ’90s with Michael Jordan and three-peated twice. Even though Pippen and Jordan may not be friends anymore, the former called the latter his best teammate of all time during an interview with Tyler Tynes of GQ.
In the same interview with GQ, Tynes asked Pippen if there was a player he wished he could have played with during his Hall of Fame career. The small forward, who hasn’t been mincing his words during his book tour, went with Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant.
Scottie Pippen: I wish I could have played with Kobe Bryant
Pippen told Tynes that Bryant is the one player he would have loved to play with during his career. The Black Mamba is widely viewed as the second greatest shooting guard in NBA history behind Jordan.
“The one teammate that I wish I could have played with and I didn’t play with was Kobe Bryant,” Pippen said. “Kobe really idolized the way that I played the game, the way that I defended, and he started to call me after I retired to ask questions about different situations, how you would guard certain people, what kind of footwork would you do, what would you do in this situation, just picking your brain to enhance his ability out on the basketball court. He was a great student of the game, and he would ask me questions about how would I guard Michael and just trying to improve his craft.”
Bryant had a close relationship with Jordan. The five-time champion called the Bulls great his big brother in Episode 5 of ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries for all the helpful advice he received from him. Jordan delivered a powerful speech at Bryant’s public memorial at Staples Center in which he cried and said the former Lakers superstar was his little brother.
Most basketball fans knew Jordan and Bryant were like brothers. Pippen and Bryant may not have been as close, but the former still revered the latter.
Scottie Pippen says Kobe Bryant was “one of the toughest players” he ever played against
Pippen told Frank Isola on Sirus XM Radio that Bryant was one of the toughest players he ever played against. The two Hall of Famers faced each other 21 times, with Bryant going 13-8.
“He was great,” Pippen said about Bryant. “I had watched Kobe from his earlier years, and about the time I had moved out and started playing on the west coast, he was in his fifth or sixth year in the league. He was definitely prime Kobe, very tough player to guard. Reminded me a lot of competing against Michael day in and day out, but I was older, and he was younger. So it was a lot different, but he was definitely one of the toughest players that I’ve ever played against.”
Pippen and Bryant met in the 2000 Western Conference Finals. The Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in seven games and wound up winning the championship over the Indiana Pacers. Pippen averaged 15.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists against the Lakers, while Bryant put up 20.4 points and 5.9 assists per game versus the Blazers.
Not only are Pippen and Bryant in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but they were also named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. You can’t talk about the history of the NBA without mentioning both players.
Pip and the Black Mamba combined to win 11 championships
Pippen and Bryant combined to win 11 championships. The former won six with the Bulls, while the latter won five with the Lakers.
A seven-time All-Star, Pippen averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists during his legendary career. He made 10 All-Defensive teams and seven All-NBA teams and won the 1994 All-Star Game MVP. The Bulls retired Pippen’s No. 33 jersey in 2005. It hangs in the rafters at the United Center next to Jordan’s No. 23.
Bryant is one of the few players who spent his entire career with one team. He averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists with the Lakers and got both of his jerseys (8, 24) retired by the franchise. The 18-time All-Star won two Finals MVPs and one regular-season MVP and made 12 All-Defensive teams and 15 All-NBA teams.