Home » NBA legend Scottie Pippen talks NBL Next Stars, the Chicago Bulls, and his son’s blossoming basketball career | Sporting News Australia

NBA legend Scottie Pippen talks NBL Next Stars, the Chicago Bulls, and his son’s blossoming basketball career | Sporting News Australia

Six NBA championships. seven All-Star selections. seven All-NBA selections. No. 33 retired by the Chicago Bulls. 

That is the legacy of NBA legend Scottie Pippen, one of the pillars of the legendary 1990s Bulls and a member of both the 50th and 75th NBA Anniversary Teams. 

Currently in Australia as part of the No Bull Tour, Pippen recently attended the Sportsbet Caulfield Blue Diamond Stakes Day, where he spoke to Sporting News about his former NBA teams, his son’s basketball career, and the Australian league’s pathway to the NBA. 

Scottie Pippen says NBL Next Stars better than college

Since its inception, the NBL Next Stars program has gone from strength to strength, producing stellar NBA prospects such as LaMelo Ball, Josh Giddey, as well as the potential No. 1 overall pick in 2024, Alex Sarr. 

Pippen has taken notice of this, and believes that the league has now surpassed even college basketball as an NBA pathway – and says even he would choose to come here if he had his choice again.

“I rate it highly I mean, it’s at the top of the chart,” Pippen said of the Next Stars program.

“It is the pathway. There’s no better way to develop a young player other than bringing him over here and putting him in the NBL.

“They’re going be playing against professional grown men, and I think that this is a great feeder into the NBA because it gives those kids the opportunity to get out, play basketball all the time, take away the school, and give them a chance to develop through lifting weights, through being in the gym, learning skills, shooting, all the things that it takes to be a pro.

“I would rather go to the NBL. I got a college degree now and I don’t do nothing with it.”

Scottie Pippen Jr. carving out role for Memphis Grizzlies

It’s always hard following in your parent’s footsteps, but when your father is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, that pressure increases tenfold. 

Scottie Pippen Jr. has experienced this during his young NBA career, as he attempts to settle into a role in the league despite his famous name. 

But since landing with the Memphis Grizzlies this season, his NBA future has begun to take shape, leaving Pippen senior prouder than ever. 

“He’s been determined, driven, working hard, just doing everything that it takes to get himself into the league, and I was glad that he got this opportunity with the Memphis Grizzlies,” Pippen said. 

“When opportunity does knock, you have to try to take advantage of it, and I think he’s going to do a great job of that.

“I think he’s a good team player, a great point guard, pass first guy, can run a team, a defensive guy that can get up, pressure the ball, cause havoc and again, young player undeveloped mentally and physically.

“So the sky’s the limit for him, if he continues to work then he can find himself a regular job within the game.”

Pippen reflects on 90s Bulls and Knicks rivalry

There might not have been a more heated rivalry during the 1990s NBA than the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks — two Eastern Conference heavyweights leaving it all out on the floor. 

Three decades later, and the two franchises are in polar opposite positions; the Bulls stuck in mud trying to pick a direction, and the Knicks on the cusp of competing for the first time in a long while. 

Pippen, the man who infamously dunked on Knicks legend Patrick Ewing, remains fairly skeptical of both team’s chances, saying that Bulls guard Coby White won’t win Most Improved Player due to team record, and that the Knicks don’t have the personnel to go all the way. 

“I would say [Coby White shouldn’t win Most Improved Player], I think more so because he’s improving, but the team is not,” Pippen said.

“I don’t know how the voting is going to go, but in my eye, as a player, your improvement depends on the team as well. It’s great for you to bring some individual things that you worked on over the summer and gotten better, but ultimately you want the team to benefit from that.

“I had some great competitive years playing against the Knicks, playing in the Madison Square Garden.

“They have a strong fan base there and they’re very knowledgeable of the game, but they can’t win a championship with the personnel they got right now and probably not with the coach that they got right now.”