Wizards

Giannis comp a reminder of lack of respect for Pippen

Wizards

In the song 'Slippery' with Migos, rapper Gucci Mane drops a basketball take that doesn't need much explanation at first glance.

"I'm Mike, y'all Pippen."

He is Michael Jordan, you are Scottie Pippen. In basketball terms, that means he's Batman and you're Robin, he's the star and you are the supporting cast member. Former NBA player Richard Jefferson essentially said the same thing on Thursday about Giannis Antetokounmpo, fresh off his Bucks lost Game 2 of their second round series against the Miami Heat.

The Bucks are now down 0-2 despite being the No. 1 seed and that has brought plenty of spicy takes and Twitter's best memographers out of the woodwork. Some of the criticism is deserved for Milwaukee, and the reigning MVP included. To compare Antetokounmpo to Pippen unfavorably, though, is entirely unfair and for several reasons.

One being that Pippen is an all-time great. The fact he played with Michael Jordan has somehow both elevated his legacy and diminished it. Pippen is considered by most to be a top-30 player in the history of the game, in large part because he won six championships with the Chicago Bulls playing alongside Jordan. But playing with Jordan also cast a shadow over him, as he was cleary second-fiddle to a better teammate.

Antetokounmpo should take any comparison to Pippen as a compliment. The latter is a Hall of Famer, a seven-time All-NBA selection and a 10-time pick for All-Defense. He is on the short-list of the best defenders of all-time and he is one of the most versatile players the NBA has ever seen.

 

The fact Pippen could do everything at the size of a power forward actually makes Antetokounmpo a decent parallel in a basketball sense. But Antetokounmpo also has a chance to be even better than Pippen, now with a defensive player of the year award and a second MVP likely coming soon. 

Antetokounmpo, in fact, could join Jordan as one of only three players ever to win MVP and defensive player of the year in the same season (Hakeem Olajuwon the other). Pippen pointed to his hardware in a tweet clapping back at Jefferson.

Jefferson managed to insult both Pippen and Antetokounmpo in one, 13-word tweet. He also played into another criticism of Antetokounmpo that is arguably unfair, that he hasn't won anything yet. Antetokounmpo is only 25 years old and last year had his team in the conference finals, at 24.

Jordan didn't win his first title until his Age 27 season. He didn't make the conference finals until he was 25. So, Antetokounmpo is technically a year ahead of schedule in that regard.

Now, whether Antetokounmpo will do enough to finish closer to Jordan than Pippen on the all-time list will depend on whether Antetokounmpo wins multiple titles to go along with his MVP trophies. But even if he stacks up closer to Pippen when his career is over, he will still be an all-time great.

Both players deserve more respect than Jefferson's tweet would suggest.