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Sam Smith: No one tougher than Scottie Pippen

Sam Smith paints a portrait of Scottie Pippen on the eve of his induction into the Hall of Fame. Here are some choice nuggets.

It’s told famously by his high school and college coaches, but truly defies explanation. The supermodel skinny kid who didn’t play much in high school and wasn’t even sure he wanted to play in college, even if he could. But his high school coach called in some favors just to get him a look at NAIA Central Arkansas. Pippen, maybe 135 pounds then and 6-1, couldn’t get a scholarship and wasn’t recruited by even a junior college. He became team manager and went to school on a Pell grant before a scholarship came open late in his freshman year and he got it in more a charitable move. He cleaned the locker room and handed out the towels. He said he enjoyed that because he could just hang out with the guys.

And now he’s going into the Basketball Hall of Fame. C’mon, you cannot even make that up.


[Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant’s] friendship was legendary at the time as they were inseparable. They’d call each other a dozen times a day and agree on clothes to wear to the game. They purchased the identical cars, dogs and lived on the same street. They were each other’s best men at their weddings, a few months apart. They had the same agent and vacationed together. In the Bulls’ yearbook in answer to the question, “Who would you take if you were going to the moon?” Pippen responded, “Horace Grant.” One of my favorite stories was when Pippen’s cat died and Grant called in saying he’d be late for practice because he had to mourn with Scottie.