Scottie Pippen thinks we should stop comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson.
Instead, Pippen thinks the most apt comparison for LeBron is...himself.
That's right, Pippen thinks he's the closest comparison to Cavs superstar and four-time NBA MVP LeBron James.
Here's his exact words, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group:
"I was LeBron James before LeBron James. It's not even close. ... I'm no slouch, but when comparing LeBron's game, I'm usually left out. ... They want to compare him to the greatest, whether it be Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, but he's more closer to myself. It's natural for folks to say that, but if you look at how he plays the game and how I played the game, you'll see more similarities with us."
Now, let's give Pippen - one of the best Bulls players of all time and a current team ambassador who has presented a strong image as a face of the franchise for decades - the benefit of the doubt here at first.
In terms of the way LeBron plays defense and his ability to aptly defend all five positions on the court, the closest comparison may actually be Pippen.
Based on defense, the overall versatility of the two stars' games and the size of each - Pippen was 6-foot-8, 210 pounds in his playing days while LeBron is 6-foot-8, 240 pounds - it's easy to see a natural comparison.
But looking offensively, we can just borrow a phrase from Pippen in that quote: It's not even close.
LeBron is averaging 27.3 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks.
Pippen averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.8 blocks per game in his career. If we just take the prime years of his career with the Bulls (from 1990 to 1998), Pippen averaged 19.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
Those are awesome numbers, but still not even close to LeBron. LeBron's lowest point output in a season was his rookie year, when he averaged 20.9 points per game at age 19.
Consider also that Pippen was never the lead dog on his team in terms of offense while LeBron has been the top scoring option on every team he's been on since he entered the league.
If we look at Pippen's numbers during the two years where Michael Jordan was retired from the game and playing baseball and Pippen had to carry the torch for the Bulls (1993-95, though Jordan came back at the end of the '94-95 season), Pip's numbers look like this: 21.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.9 steals, 1.0 blocks per game.
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That's closer to LeBron's output, but still pretty far away.
Again, if Pippen is just talking about defense and versatility, maybe the Bulls ambassador has a point. But other than that, I'm not sure exactly what Pip was going for with those statements...