Surprise: Dennis Rodman’s got quite the fiery take for our viewing pleasure.

“If LeBron was playing during the '90s, I'd still say Scottie Pippen was the second-best player behind Michael,” Rodman told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan in a recent, lengthy interview.

The impetus behind the interview, as a whole, was for Rodman to defend Pippen against criticism that has apparently emerged in the wake of “The Last Dance.” According to MacMullan, “those close to [Pippen] say he's wounded and disappointed by his portrayal” in the docuseries.

But Rodman called Pippen severely underpaid and underrated to MacMullan, and a pioneer at the forward spot.

"At that time, people were calling Larry Bird the quintessential forward," Rodman told MacMullan. "He was great, but he couldn't play multiple positions like Scottie could. He wasn't agile enough. I just don't think people realize what Scottie was doing in 1991.

"He (Pippen) revolutionized the point-forward position. All these players today should thank Scottie Pippen. Guys like Kevin Durant should say, 'Wow, look what you did for us.' Scottie could handle, he could shoot the ball, he could defend, he could rebound.”

Fair enough. In an interesting revelation, Rodman also told MacMullan that he studied Pippen and molded his game after the Bulls forward long after they played together. Indeed, the two are bonded by humble beginnings, unlikely rises to acclaim and an on-court identity that centers on versatility, energy and underappreciated skill.

Now, does all that make Pippen greater than LeBron James, whose accolades defy sense? Eh. Who’s to say, really? The real takeaway is to never take Scottie Pippen for granted — no matter what unflattering light the documentary might shine on him from time to time (e.g. The Migraine Game, the 1.8 seconds game coming up on May 10, etc).

The two biggest takeaways from any Pippen debate: Like anyone, he has had his ups and downs. But unlike many, he changed the game of basketball forever, racking up all-time-level glory along the way.

 

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