Charles Oakley had rich words of praise for Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and other members of the final Chicago Bulls team that he was on.
Charles Oakley was one of the NBA’s most iconic bruiser/enforcer figures of all time during his heyday. At 6’8″, Oakley was shorter than most big men (power forwards and centers both) of his era.
Yet, due to his superior understanding of positioning, leverage and angles, the Oak Tree went on to become the Bulls’ highest rebounder and second-highest scorer as a rookie alongside Michael Jordan.
GM Jerry Krause would trade him to the New York Knicks in exchange for Bill Wennington after 3 years. This wasn’t something that went well with MJ, who had befriended Oakley at a level way beyond just being buddies off the court.
Oakley’s absence also meant that the Detroit Pistons would subject Michael Jordan to way more physical play. In his absence, and because Wennington was more a skill player than an enforcer, the Pistons would use the ‘Jordan Rules’ and get up in MJ’s face all game long.
Nevertheless, Oakley was around to see the nucleus of the Bulls’ dynasty come together. He was around when Jerry Krause used the Bulls’ first-round picks in the 1987 NBA Draft on Grant and Scottie Pippen.
“Scottie Pippen was a LeBron James type player with less offense”: Charles Oakley
Pippen had lit up the college basketball circuit during his time with Arkansas. But his learning curve in the NBA, like most other Hall of Famers, was pretty steep. Pippen only averaged single-digit points as a rookie.
However, Charles Oakley saw the potential in the young swingman to become a dominant force even in his rookie year. Talking to Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on All the Smoke podcast, Oakley called Pippen a LeBron James-type player:
“Part of the whole blueprint for winning the whole 6 championships – 3 and 3 – Horace got 3 and Scottie got 6. Horace played the 4 and 5, shooting mid-range, good athlete from Crimson.”
“And then Scottie, you know, like I said – he’s a LeBron type of player, but doesn’t have as much offense as LeBron. But he can do a lot, you know. He can play 4 positions…”