NBA Legends know best.
Boston.com: Scottie Pippen, who retired with six rings, wasn’t ready to crown LeBron James and the Miami Heat NBA champions before seeing them take the court. Karl Malone, who was never able to win it all, couldn’t bring himself to do it either.
The Heat assembled a core of superstars in James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, and already analysts are predicting the levels of success they could achieve. ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy said the Heat will surpass the 72 wins that Pippen and Michael Jordan led theChicago Bulls to in the 1995-96 season. Pippen asked if Van Gundy was a betting man.
“I think those guys’ biggest goal is to try and win a championship and not trying to win 72 games,’’ Pippen said yesterday before he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. “But if Jeff Van Gundy wants to make a bet, I will bet him that they won’t break it. You can put a lot of great players together, but it’s about building chemistry.’’
Pippen said the Heat’s quest starts by unseating the Celtics as Eastern Conference champions.
“I think, me personally, Boston is still probably the best team in the East. Miami hasn’t proven themselves,’’ Pippen said.
Malone played 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz, but ended his career chasing a title with the Lakers in the 2003-04 season. A fan of James’s, Malone said he could relate to his decision.
“When you have ties to cities or communities, it is bittersweet for people,’’ Malone said. “Sometimes, they take it personal.’’
At the same time, knowing the Lakers were paper champions the year he was there (Los Angeles lost to the Pistons in the Finals), Malone said nothing’s a given with the Heat.
“With LeBron down there, they’ve got a hell of a shot, but last time I checked the champions are still the champions until somebody beats them,’’ Malone said. “So I’ll go out on a limb and tell you this, until somebody beats the Lakers, they’re still the champions.’’