Scottie Pippen just can't win.
After Pippen said last week that he thinks his old teammate Michael Jordan is the best scorer in NBA history but that LeBron James may be a better all-around player, he was roundly criticized. Eventually Pippen backtracked and insisted that he didn't mean any offense to Jordan.
But now Pippen is facing criticism over another aspect of his James-Jordan comparison: The part where he said Jordan is the best scorer in history.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has written an open letter to Pippen in which he says that's not true, and it's actually Wilt Chamberlain who deserves the title of best scorer ever.
"I have nothing but respect for you my friend as an athlete and knowledgeable basketball mind," Abdul-Jabbar wrote in the letter, which he gave to the Los Angeles Times. "But you are way off in your assessment of who is the greatest player of all time and the greatest scorer of all time. Your comments are off because of your limited perspective. You obviously never saw Wilt Chamberlain play who undoubtedly was the greatest scorer this game has ever known. When did MJ ever average 50.4 points per game plus 25.7 rebounds? ... MJ led the league in scoring in consecutive seasons for 10 years but he did this in an NBA that eventually expanded into 30 teams vs. when Wilt played and there were only 8 teams."
On merit, I think Kareem is right here: Wilt really is the greatest scorer in the history of the game. Jordan is the best scorer since Chamberlain, but the things Chamberlain did were on another level. In Jordan's best season, 1986-87, he averaged 37.1 points a game. In Chamberlain's first four seasons he averaged 37.6, 38.4, 50.4 and 44.8 points a game. There's never been another scorer like Chamberlain.
And yet I think we may be reaching the point where we all just need to calm down about Pippen's comments and not nitpick every last word he said. Pippen was asked for an assessment of Jordan and James, and he gave it to the best of his ability. I didn't agree with what he said, Bulls fans didn't agree with what he said, Kareem didn't agree with what he said, etc. But there comes a time when we just have to move on. Maybe that time should be now.