Today we continue running down the Portland Trail Blazers All-Disappointment Team. Players can disappoint for many reasons. Some don't have talent. Others never connect with fans. Still others are given far too much money or responsibility for their level of play. None of those apply here. Today's disappointing player had worlds of talent. Just a couple years before coming to Portland he was considered one of the top 3-4 players in the league. He played well enough in a Blazer uniform, became a fan favorite, and could shoulder whatever was thrown at him. Nevertheless, Scottie Pippen never delivered fully on the excitement generated by the six-player deal that netted him for the Blazers in the fall of 1999.
When that deal went down, October 2nd to be exact, it made national headlines. Mind you, this was the era before internet journalism turned every surreptitious nose wipe into a national headline. This was legit...a true Big Deal. Pippen was meant to be the Missing Link in Portland's lineup, bringing championship experience, scoring punch, and defense alike. This was the move that served notice to the league that Portland was gunning for a title and nothing less.
Though he played decently for the Blazers--12.5 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists in 82 starts in his first season--and certainly helped the defense, Pippen never provided the hill-topping push that the Blazers needed. He played games but didn't dominate them on either end. Once in a blue moon he'd break out with a monster performance but the next night normality returned. One could argue his lack of production was due to teammate interference (the team was stacked) but the Blazers were really looking for a take-charge scorer during this period. Pippen wasn't that. Nor was he able to shift the mental and emotional focus of the team away from the mercurial Rasheed Wallace. Scottie knew how to win but this was never his team.
The single piece of evidence that damns Scottie to the most-disappointing team despite his talent and production can be summarized in but two words: no rings. Pippen was brought here for titles. The Blazers never reached the NBA Finals with him on the roster and only went to the Conference Finals once. Though he had a couple of nice games Pippen himself contributed to the collapse against the Lakers in that WCF series by turning over the ball like it was buttered. It became among the strongest of his defining moments.
After 2000 the Blazers never got more than 60 starts a season out of Scottie. He played one decent playoff series in 2001-02 versus those same Lakers but otherwise tanked hard in the postseason. In his final years the on-court sparks came fewer and farther between and in the end he became known more for grousing and riding out his contract than leading the team to victory.
Looking at his body of work post-Chicago Pippen's story seems to be advancing age combined with an inability to produce while not being the focus of the offense. Most of that story was written with the Blazers.
If anyone else besides THE Scottie Pippen amassed this legacy he wouldn't even sniff at the All-Disappointing Team. But the gap between what the Blazers hoped to get from Scottie and what he actually ended up delivering was wide enough to land him here. Maybe it was him, maybe it was high expectations. Either way, it was disappointing.
As always you can agree, disagree, enhance, or modify in the comment section. If you missed reading about our #15 disappointment, Walter Berry, click here.