After judging a slam dunk contest in the Nike Chi League all star festivities last Saturday, Bulls Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen took time out to speak to reporters. He talked about the NBA offseason, specifically LeBron James‘ Decision Part II and the Bulls’ failed attempt at prying Carmelo Anthony away from New York.
“I kind of figured he’d go back to Cleveland,” Pippen said. “I don’t know if he could hold that team up. I think Dwyane Wade‘s physical ability had him thinking, like, ‘Hey, maybe this is not the place I need to be.’ It was a great run for them. They weren’t as successful as they thought they would be, but you went to the Finals four times, so you can’t hold your head down too much about that.”
You can take that last statement as a backhanded compliment, but considering Pippen won six titles in six attempts, he should be allowed such language.
Pippen was also asked about his part in the Anthony pitch.
After taking a picture with Anthony in a Nike event in Europe, Bulls fans were optimistic about bringing one of the top scorers in the NBA to Chicago. Ultimately, however, Anthony stayed in New York and re-signed with the Knicks for $124 million.
“I’m not disappointed,” Pippen said. “Guys are going to make their decision at the end of the day, so you try to make a pitch, and hopefully it works. It hasn’t worked so far, but still, we did what we had to do as an organization to try and attract one of the best free agents out there.”
Pippen was asked how the Bulls pitched Chicago to Anthony.
“’Look at the roster’ – that was pretty much it,” Pippen said. “We have a roster we think has a championship pedigree. We’ve been playing good basketball the last few years, even without our star player. Just adding some pieces was the pitch we were throwing at him. We felt that he was a big piece that we needed to get over the hump.”
Now that James has moved back to Cleveland, Pippen says the Bulls have as good a chance at winning the East as any other team. “I think it’s wide open now, other than looking at San Antonio as the defending champion. I think a lot of teams have the opportunity to step up.”