Bulls legend and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen was on Good Morning America on Monday, discussing the legacy of Kobe Bryant, who passed away on Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA. Pippen knows quite a bit about Bryant, having been at the tail end of his prime years right when a fresh-faced 17-year old Bryant was drafted into the league. As Pippen discussed in the GMA interview, his NBA career—which lasted until the 2003-04 season—spanned the majority of Bryant's rise to prominence. By the time "Pip" retired in 2004, Kobe was a six-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion.
Pippen fondly remembered Bryant's drive, saying that his "competitive fire was unmatched." He went on to of course discuss the profound impact that Michael Jordan had on Bryant's career, essentially providing him a roadmap for the type of NBA legacy he wanted to leave:
I look back at Kobe and I watch his growth and development. He was one of those players that idolized Michael Jordan but he mimicked Michael Jordan in a lot of ways, and it was a guy that y'know, I watched him watch films on one of the greatest players that ever play[ed] the game [Michael Jordan] and he emulated his game to a T and to some degree overcame all of his weaknesses and became to me, one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
“He developed into, in my eye, one of the greatest players I’ve ever watched on the basketball court.” — NBA Hall of Famer @scottiepippen reflects on former opponent #KobeBryant’s impact. https://t.co/LNTiZax7HR pic.twitter.com/53IMg3nhR6— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 27, 2020
Pippen is also a part of one of the greatest moments of Bryant's illustrious career.
When the Kobe-Shaquille O'Neal Lakers were in pursuit of their first NBA title with head coach Phil Jackson in the 1999-2000 season they ran into an extremely tough and formidable Portland Trailblazers team in the Western Conference Finals, led by the veteran trio of Pippen, Rasheed Wallace, and Steve Smith. The series ending up going seven games and that high-pressure Game 7 is when Kobe showed a national audience what the rest of his NBA career was going to look like.
Bryant and O'Neal led the Lakers back from a 15-point deficit, capped off by an amazing alley-oop from Kobe to Shaq that will be replayed on NBA highlight reels for ages, and led to the first title for the Lakers' dynasty of the 2000s.
Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.— Big Blue Nation (@BigBlue9ation) January 26, 2020
Kobe to Shaq for the alley oop.
A legend forever.
Rest In Peace, Kobe Bryant. 🙏🏽pic.twitter.com/FA7ptOQh1t
By the time he retired, Kobe Bryant racked up 18 All-Star game appearances, 15 All-NBA appearances, and five NBA championships, solidifying his place as one of the all-time greats, a thought Pippen said was shared by his NBA peers:
"I've heard a few players even say it, Kobe Bryant had no weaknesses in his basketball game. He worked hard at everything and he became great at every part of his game."