To this day, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest player in the history of professional basketball. In his career, he mustered six championships, six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs and 10 scoring titles and was a 14-time All-Star. More than that, Jordan was the face of a dynasty and had a tremendous impact on the exposure of the NBA around the world.
Even young players today agree that Jordan is the GOAT, but someone very close to him might be starting to have a change of heart. During a recent interview at the NBA Summer League, Scottie Pippen talked about how much the game has changed since his playing days. In his eyes, this era is tougher than the one he played in because of the increased pace and the emphasis on outside shooting.
After hearing these comments, FS1’s Chris Broussard began building a conspiracy theory. He feels Pippen made these comments to take a slight jab at his former teammate.
“I’m gonna throw this out,” Broussard said. “I – and I might be wrong – but I can’t help but feel that every time Scottie Pippen makes some type of comment like this, it’s a subtle jab at his teammate, Michael Jordan. Like, ‘Jordan’s not the GOAT because he played in an easier era’ … ‘This era is tougher so the GOAT can’t come from my era.’ But that’s just my thinking.”
Is the current era of the NBA actually tougher than Michael Jordan’s?
Whether Scottie Pippen wanted to take a jab at Michael Jordan or not, his statement is rather fascinating. While most feel the game is starting to get soft, Pippen feels the complete opposite.
In terms of actual toughness, it’s hard not to say the 1990s was the harder era. Who can forget when Jordan had to spend an entire summer bulking up to prepare himself for the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons? Or the bruising New York Knicks? From a physicality standpoint, Jordan and Pippen’s era was much tougher.
What the Bulls forward might have been trying to say is that the game is harder now due to a change in ideals. Because of the impact analytics has had, teams have traded in physicality for athleticism. The tempo has gone through the roof as coaches look to maximize the number of possessions in a game.
Looking at it from this angle, Jordan should still be viewed as the greatest ever. If there was anyone from that era who could survive the up-tempo style played today, it’s His Airness.