Celtics legend Larry Bird called Scottie Pippen one of the toughest defenders to beat. The 3x Celtics champion had predicted Pippen to be an all-time great.
Larry Bird is arguably one of the greats players in the Celtics franchise history. The superstar was one of the first few players in the league who popularized the 3-point shooting. Bird had a decorated career that was cut short due to prolong injuries.
As the Celtic legend’s career was in its final legs, there was an onset of a new dynasty in the NBA known as the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls superstar duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen marked the beginning of a new era.
Despite not being in his prime while facing the Bulls, Bird believed Pippen was one of the most elite defenders he had ever seen. Bird would retire in 1992 at a time when the Bulls were on a quest for a 3-peat.
The Celtics superstar had his last prime season during the 1989-90 calendar year of the NBA. The same season where Pippen would have his first All-Star appearance.
Larry Bird paid Scottie Pippen one of the biggest compliments of his career
Though Bird never really played Pippen during his prime, the former believed Pippen was one of the greatest defenders in the NBA. During Pippen’s induction in the 2010 Hall of Fame class, Bird had some high words of praise for the 6x NBA champion.
Scottie has been great for a long time, Bird said, via NBA.com. I remember when he first came into the league. I played against him and as time progressed, he got better and better. The Hall of Fame is a very deserving award for him.
Pippen was one of the best. He and Michael Cooper gave me the most problems.
Though Pippen never won the DPOY award, he is one of the best defenders in NBA history. The Bulls legend had 8 NBA All-Defensive First team and 2 All-Defensive second-team selections, which puts him right behind Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett.
Scottie Pippen Defense
“If I’m a young player today… I would really focus on the defensive end of the floor & focus on Scottie Pippen. This guy was a genius. His ball pressure, playing passing lanes, blocking shots, taking charges — & he played with a passion.” – Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/zSBuiiZz5p
— Jaycob Ammerman (@Jammer2233) April 24, 2021
Pippen led the league in steals in 1995, averaging an impressive 2.0 SPG during his 17 seasons in the league. The superstar ranks 7th on the list of all-time leaders in steals. The 7x All-Star was a threat on both ends of the floor.
Both Bird and Pippen were part of the iconic Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. During their tenure in Barcelona, Bird would pass the torch to MJ and Pippen, who were at the peak of their prime. The same year, Bird retired from the NBA.