Scottie Pippen has been consistently criticizing and questioning Michael Jordan's legacy and abilities over the past few years, leading to widespread disapproval from NBA fans and former players who find Pippen's behavior unnecessary and disrespectful. Among those who have taken a strong stance against Pippen's actions is the formidable Shaquille O'Neal, who went as far as threatening physical violence towards the six-time NBA Champion as a response to Pippen's ongoing attacks on Jordan's greatness.
In an episode of the Big Podcast back in 2021, Shaq was updated on Pippen's claims of being better than Jordan. Shaq's tone turned serious upon hearing this.
"He didn't say that," Shaq said. "He never said that. If that man says that in front of me, Imma hit him right in the esophagus. Yeah, Imma drop him, do not finish that sentence."
While Shaquille O'Neal is typically known for his cheerful and lighthearted demeanor, there are certain triggers that can make him serious and even furious, such as when his longtime colleague Charles Barkley provokes him. However, another thing that significantly agitates Shaq is when someone dares to claim they are superior to the legendary Michael Jordan. Having personally experienced the challenge of facing the formidable Chicago Bulls teams, Shaq firmly aligns himself with Team Jordan when it comes to the ongoing debate about the greatest basketball player of all time.
"Scottie Pippen is better than Michael Jordan" seems like a blasphemous statement at face value. Pippen is nowhere near the GOAT debates. However, Pippen did not really say he was a better basketball player than Mike.
"I was a much better teammate than Michael ever was," Pippen wrote in his memoir, Unguarded. "Ask anyone who played with the two of us. I was always there with a pat on the back or an encouraging word, especially after he put someone down for one reason or another. I helped the others to believe in and stop doubting themselves."
To be fair, Pippen's style of leadership is something most people would prefer. People like to be motivated through tender, loving care and not by pushing them to the limit. It's just the way it is.
Jordan had a different way of maximizing his teammates' talents. He believed that every practice session should be like hell and that, as a leader, he should act like a tyrant to put fear in his teammates' eyes. Jordan's methods worked, as we can see by the Chicago Bulls' place in history. But if Pippen were the leader of the team, he would've employed a friendlier approach.