Doug Collins: Scottie Pippen And Tex Winter Should Be In The Hall
I didn’t think I’d ever say this, and I won’t say it again for at least a year, but I miss Doug Collins. Last year at this time, the NBA guru was calling Olympic games, but with no world competition going on this annum, I’m waiting for Collins, the TNT crew, and the entire NBA to return in less than two months. News flash: sports fans will have more than the MLB, soccer, tennis, golf, and horse racing starting tomorrow with the return of the NFL. However, with Michael Jordan’s induction in to the Hall this Friday, and with Collins accepting an award for broadcasting this week, his words have become important once again. The storied player, coach, and TV man joined ESPN Chicago with Waddle and Silvy to discuss the best part about Michael Jordan, whether MJ needed to be told he had to be a better teammate, and if Scottie Pippen / Tex Winter belong in the Hall of Fame.
What was the best part of coaching Michael Jordan?
“Well, you’re coaching the greatest competitor to ever play. So the one thing about it is, I always tell young players when you coach a player with that kind of talent and who’s your best player and your hardest worker – he’s your most competitive guy and he has the strongest drive to win, and it’s an incredible blessing for a coach. Now with that goes a tremendous amount of pressure, because Michael wants to win every single night and he’s going to put that same kind of pressure on both his coach and his teammates to play at that kind of level, to coach at that kind of level, to have that kind of preparation. But my time with him with him was fantastic. Like you said, I had him early in his career when things were just taking off for him and watched him blossom into arguably the best player to ever play. I think what separates Michael guys, is the fact he not only was the best offensive player to play at his position but he was also the best defender at his position, to me to ever play that two guard spot. His competitive will and drive, it did not change. When I had him in Washington, he was 41-years-old, the problem was is that he didn’t have the same physical gifts at that point in time, so he reinvented his game. He again, had the strongest will and was the smartest I had been around.”
Did someone have to get to Michael early and let him know he had to be a better teammate, because just you alone will not have the type of career until you learn that lesson?
“I think that happened simply because he got better players around him. I always tell people that when we started out and I was with Michael, if he didn’t throw up 35 to 40 points every night and dominate the game, we just didn’t have enough with him at that point in time to win. Obviously my first year there in Chicago — Charles Oakley was a terrific player, I think was second in the league in rebounding that year, I think averaging 15 to 17 points a night. At that point in time, if you look at Magic Johnson and the players he had with him, and Isiah Thomas, and Larry Bird and a lot these guys early in their careers. Michael did not have that kind of supporting cast. To me, the big turn around was when we were able to get Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, and then all of a sudden the talent was there so Michael could do other things and not have to dominate as much. He could pick and choose to maybe to turn it on in the fourth quarter and not have to carry your team the entire night. I think it was an unfair label that Michael didn’t do that as a young player; I mean he did that at North Carolina as a freshman and they won a National Championship. He played with great players there. I think as he got better teammates and more talented teammates that became a more natural progression for him.”
Is Michael the greatest player ever?
“He is to me. You know obviously I’m biased guys because when you’ve been in the huddles and practices, when you’ve traveled with a guy who’s this committed, who loves the game this much, who’s so a winner. Obviously, that is going to sway things for my thinking towards Michael Jordan. If you just think about how he played the game, his incredible competitive instincts, we talk about that, how well conditioned he was. I always tell young players, Michael Jordan to me, when he was a young player, could play two games in one night. Not only did he have that kind of drive, but that’s how well conditioned he was to be able to play both ends of the floor. And when you dominate as a defensive player, I mean the second year with me we won 50 games and won the first round of the playoffs that year. If you go back that year, I mean Michael was the MVP of the league, I think he averaged about 35 a game, he was the defensive player of the year, had over 200 steals, over a hundred blocked shots, was the MVP of the All-Star game, won the Slam Dunk competition, and took us into the second round of the playoffs with a very, very young team. I mean that’s a career for a lot of guys, but that’s only one year.”
Do you think Scottie Pippen is eventually going into the HOF? And Tex Winter, what are your thoughts on those two guys?
“I don’t think there is any question that Scottie Pippen is a Hall-of-Famer; you talk about a guy who fit like a glove next to Michael Jordan. He was a great, great fit. One of the things Scottie was able to do, first of all he was a great defender. So when you think about those Chicago Bulls teams, their defense was the thing that separated them, obviously they could score and do the things they did. When you’ve got two guys like Michael and Scottie at their positions, year in and year out who were first team all league defense. Then Scottie’s ability to handle the ball, so in that triangle offense, Michael could get down the floor and didn’t have to worry about doing all the playmaking, could get into the game and not have to handle the ball as much, so your defense could load up on him. There’s no doubt in my mind that Scottie Pippen will be in the Hall-of-Fame. Tex Winter, great, great contributions, not only in Chicago but in Los Angeles with Phil Jackson, I mean Phil has won four championships out there, six in Chicago, Tex has been a part of all 10 of those. So when you start thinking of lifetime contributions, I mean Tex was a great coach in his own right in college at one point, I’m hoping that he will get that honor as well because he has definitely been a tremendous contributor. Guys, another Chicago guy going in this weekend is Jerry Sloan who has his jersey retired there, it’s a big week for Chicago in terms of people who have been a part that Chicago Bulls organization. People who are very proud to be Chicago Bulls are going to be representing the city in Springfield, Mass.”