Pippen: International players more simple, U.S. players more athletic

scottie-pippen-streetball-franceEarlier in July, legendary NBA forward Scottie Pippen was participating in the Quai 54 streetball tournament in France.

He grew up playing on a dirt court in his backyard, and is now one of the 50 greatest ever to play basketball. Pippen went on to have a career in the NBA that any player would want, having won six NBA championships.

With a stylish tank top and long shorts to combat the Parisian heat, No. 33 walked out to center court at the recent 2014 Quai 54 World Streetball Championship to answer some questions. Pippen spoke on several topics with SLAM magazine.

“I grew up playing streetball. I think every kid grows up playing streetball at some point. I had a dirt court in my backyard, I played on the playground a lot,” Pippen said.

Answering the question on the biggest difference between streetball and the Euro League or the NBA, Pippen said there was only one big difference.

“I mean the game is the game, no matter what. You’re just seeing different levels of players. Players who are organized, players who are getting coached, compared to players who haven’t been coached. So it’s just a different level of players. A lot of streetball players are able to go to a higher level,” he said.

“The problem is they [streetball players] just haven’t been coached. And players that have been coached throughout their careers are pretty easy to make the transition. And those who play streetball all the time and haven’t been coached, it’s tougher for them to make the transition because they don’t take coaching,” Pippen explained.

Pippen, who averaged about 4 points and 3 rebounds in his freshman year went on tot average 26 and 10 by senior year, said he was always passionate about the game.

“I think what really helped me was I grew five inches after my freshman year in college. But I’ve always loved the game. When I grew it just really opened up opportunities for me,” he said.

Chicago Bulls legend noted that he always believed he will make it to the next level.

“You know, I think that the growth spurt just really gave me what I needed, but I’ve always dreamt of playing in the NBA,” he said.

Pippen went on to add that if he could pick players to play with in today’s streetball game, he would pick Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker.

He added that he himself doesn’t play a lot these days, as basketball is not a central theme of his current life.

“I’ve got three boys who really love the game. I’ve got a 13, 11 and 8-year-old boy, and a 5-year-old girl,” Pippen noted, adding that all of his kids play basketball.

Speaking of international players, Pippen agreed that it helps to have cultural diversity in a team.

“I think it helps the team. I think international players are much more simple basketball players, whereas American players, we are more athletic basketball players. So it makes the transition easier when you don’t have a guy that’s so overwhelming and uses his athleticism all the time. Just playing simple basketball—passing, moving—makes the game simpler. It simplifies the game,” he noted.

Further on, Pippen noted that winning the NBA championship is not about a player as an individual.

“I think you have to sort of push everything to the side and really focus on the team, focus on making other people around you better and not really focusing on yourself. You know, you find the final ingredient, and you’re winning and it works. It makes it a little bit easier for you when you’re traveling. You’ve got 82 games so it sheds some of the frustration,” he said.

Pippen won six NBA titles with the Bulls. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 and now serves as special adviser to the Bulls’ president and CEO.

In 1996, he was named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players. In his NBA career, Pippen played for the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Portland TrailBlazers.

Pippen played in a total of 1178 NBA games (1053 started), averaging 16.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 5.2 apg in 34.9 minutes per game.


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