How Soon They Forget: An Open Letter to Scottie Pippen

Dear Scottie,

I have nothing but respect for you my friend as an athlete and knowledgeable basketball mind. But you are way off in your assessment of who is the greatest player of all time and the greatest scorer of all time. Your comments are off because of your limited perspective. You obviously never saw Wilt Chamberlain play who undoubtedly was the greatest scorer this game has ever known. When did MJ ever average 50.4 points per game plus 25.7 rebounds? (Wilt in the 1962 season when blocked shot statistics were not kept). We will never accurately know how many shots Wilt blocked. Oh, by the way in 1967 and 68, Wilt was a league leader in assists. Did MJ ever score 100 points in a game? How many times did MJ score more than 60 points in a game? MJ led the league in scoring in consecutive seasons for 10 years but he did this in an NBA that eventually expanded into 30 teams vs. when Wilt played and there were only 8 teams.

Every team had the opportunity to amass a solid nucleus. Only the cream of the basketball world got to play then. So MJ has to be appraised in perspective. His incredible athletic ability, charisma and leadership on the court helped to make basketball popular around the world -- no question about that. But in terms of greatness, MJ has to take a backseat to The Stilt.

In terms of winning, Michael excelled as both an emotional and scoring leader but Bill Russell’s Celtics won eight consecutive NBA Championships. Bill's rebounding average per game is over 22.5 lifetime, MJs best rebounding years was eight per game (1989). But we will never know exactly how many shots Bill Russell blocked because again, they never kept that statistic while he played. However, if you ask anybody that played against Russell, they will just roll their eyes and say he blocked all the shots he wanted to block in the crucial moments of a game.

Bill played on a total of 11 championship teams and as you very well know, Scottie, the ring is the thing, and everything else is just statistics. So I would advise you to do a little homework before crowning Michael or LeBron with the title of best ever. As dominant as he is, LeBron has yet to win a championship. I must say that it looks like Miami has finally put the team together that will change that circumstance. Its my hope that today’s players get a better perspective on exactly what has been done in this league in the days of yore.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,


JOPLIN, Mo. - A massive tornado that tore a 6-mile path across southwestern Missouri killed at least 125 people as it slammed into the city of Joplin, ripping into a hospital, crushing cars like soda cans and leaving a forest of splintered tree trunks behind where entire neighborhoods once stood.
Authorities warned that the death toll could climb as search and rescuers continued their work. Their task was made more miserable Monday morning May 23 as a thunderstorm with strong, gusty winds and heavy rain pelted part of the city with quarter-size hail.

Dramatic capture of fury of Joplin tornado.
City manager Mark Rohr announced an initial number of known dead at a predawn news conference outside the wreckage of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday's storm. Mr. Rohr said the twister cut a path nearly 6 miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town, adding that tornado sirens gave residents about a 20-minute warning before the tornado touched down on the city's west side.

Much of the city's south side was leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins. Fire chief Mitch Randles estimated 25 percent to 30 percent of the city was damaged and said his own home was among the buildings destroyed as the twister swept through this city of about 50,000 people some 160 miles south of Kansas City.

An unknown number of people were injured in the storm, and officials said patients were scattered to any nearby hospitals that could take them.

Authorities conducted a door-to-door search of the damaged area May 23, moving gingerly around downed power lines, jagged debris and a series of gas leaks that caused fires around the city overnight.

Gov. Jay Nixon said May 23 that fires from gas leaks still burned across the city.

“It's a very, very precarious situation,” Gov. Nixon told CNN. “It's going to be a stark view as people see dawn rise in Joplin, Missouri.” Residents said the damage was breathtaking in scope.

“You see pictures of World War II, the devastation and all that with the bombing. That's really what it looked like,” said Kerry Sachetta, the principal of a flattened Joplin High School. “I couldn't even make out the side of the building. It was total devastation in my view. I just couldn't believe what I saw.”

The Joplin twister was one of 68 reported tornadoes across seven Midwest states over the May 22 weekend, stretching from Oklahoma to Wisconsin, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center. One person was killed in Minneapolis. But the devastation in Missouri was the worst, eerily reminiscent of the tornadoes that killed more than 300 people across the South last month.

The Sunday May 22 storm in Joplin hit a hospital packed with patients and a commercial area including a Home Depot construction store, numerous smaller businesses and restaurants and a grocery store. Jasper County emergency management director Keith Stammer said an estimated 2,000 buildings were damaged.

Among the worst-hit locations in Joplin was St. John's Regional Medical Center. The staff had just a few moments' notice to hustle patients into hallways before the storm struck the nine-story building, blowing out hundreds of windows and leaving the facility useless.

Michael Spencer, a national Red Cross spokesman who also assisted in the aftermath of a tornado that devastated nearby Pierce City in 2003, was also stunned. “I've been to about 75 disasters, and I've never seen anything quite like this before,” Mr. Spencer said. “You don't typically see metal structures and metal frames torn apart, and that's what you see here.”

Triage centers and shelters set up around the city quickly filled to capacity. At Memorial Hall, a downtown entertainment venue, nurses and other emergency workers from across the region were treating critically injured patients.

Emergency management officials rushed heavy equipment to Joplin to help lift debris and clear the way for search and recovery operations. Gov. Nixon declared a state of emergency, and President Barack Obama said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was working with state and local agencies.

An aching helplessness settled over residents, many of whom could only wander the wreckage bereft and wonder about the fate of loved ones.

A tornado that hit north Minneapolis killed one person and injured 29. Authorities imposed an overnight curfew over a 4-square-mile area, including some of the city's poorest neighborhoods, to prevent looting and keep streets clear for emergency crews.

Additional storms were predicted across the southern Plains. An advisory from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said warm weather May 23 could fuel instability in advance of another weather system. A few tornadoes, some strong—starting in Oklahoma and southern Kansas in the afternoon and in North Texas in the late afternoon were possible at Final Call press time. (AP)


“O you who believe, if an unrighteous man brings you news, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you did.”
—Holy Qur'an Surah 49:6

Brother Abdul Akbar Muhammad Photo: Mikal Veale
(FinalCall.com) - Abdul Akbar Muhammad, international representative of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, is back safely in the United States after being detained by law enforcement officials in the South American country of Guyana.

In an exclusive interview, Akbar Muhammad told The Final Call May 21 that when Guyanese police officers came to his hotel room in the country, an officer said the Central Intelligence Agency had told local authorities he was a terrorist. There are also suspicions that the false arrest and detention could be tied to tensions between the ruling Indian-dominated political party and Black opposition party as elections loom.

The false charges and arrest is part of a sustained effort to trash the good name of Minister Farrakhan and the good works of the Nation of Islam, charged Mr. Muhammad, who has traveled to Guyana on numerous occasions since 1975 and has never had any problems with law enforcement. His most recent visit was about five years ago to speak to young people.

Guyana is located on the northern tip of South America
“The Minister is well known in that society, so when you see his name on the front of the paper, people are going to read it,” said Mr. Muhammad. “It's absolutely to try to make Minister Farrakhan look other than the champion that he is (on behalf) of Black people, and to say that he's got one of his assistants down there who is a terrorist and dealing drugs and planning some terrorist act against Guyanese society,” he added.

Just hours after touching down on American soil, Mr. Muhammad spoke to The Final Call from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, explaining that the trip to the South American country involved a series of speaking engagements, media appearances and business meetings. During his time there, he spoke to the mayor of Georgetown, the nation's capitol, as well as some pre-teen students in an economically depressed area of town.

Strange call and then arrest

While in his hotel room at the Princess Hotel in Georgetown, Mr. Muhammad said he got a strange telephone call at about 1:30 a.m. The caller asked to speak to someone, and he told them they had the wrong room.

About 15 minutes later, he heard banging on his door and the voices outside said they were the police. Mr. Muhammad said he was not sure if they were police so at first he refused to open the door, then they threatened to break the door down. He told them that was not necessary and knowing he had done nothing wrong, he opened the door, saw four Guyanese police officers and one of them said they were contacted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency saying that he was a terrorist.

Angered yet under control, Mr. Muhammad began defiantly questioning the officer in charge.

“I felt it was erroneous, I felt that it was fake, so I said to the officer in charge, ‘You got a message from the CIA? Are you the CIA's boys? They just call you and tell you I am a terrorist and you come and arrest me? I thought this was a sovereign country? Is the CIA running this country, or are you running it?' He didn't say anything,” recounted Mr. Muhammad.

After grabbing a few belongings and walking out of his hotel room, he saw two White men standing in the hallway and heard them talking. They appeared to be with the police, but were not uniformed.

Mr. Muhammad walked over and asked one, “Are you the CIA agents who gave them this information?” He said the man answered, “No.” Asked if he was an American citizen, the man replied, “yes,” according to Mr. Muhammad. “Then how come you've got that British accent?” Mr. Muhammad asked, but the man was silent. The two men remained in the building after Guyanese officers escorted Mr. Muhammad outside, presumably to go through the hotel room and search through his belongings.

Mr. Muhammad was concerned that perhaps something could be planted in his room, but there was nothing that he could do about it at the time.

False media reports circulate

The first news many heard regarding the situation was an Associated Press report early afternoon May 19 stating that Akbar Muhammad, described as a “U.S. Muslim cleric,” had been detained on suspicion of ties to drugs and terrorism.

In the Islamophobic climate of America, that wording was sure to push buttons and create a perception in the minds of viewers and readers.

Guyana Crime Chief Seelal Persaud
Guyanese assistant police commissioner Seelal Persaud was quoted in several news articles as saying, “Based on the information we have, he is involved in drugs and terrorism.”

Mr. Muhammad said, however, after being taken to the police station, he was subjected to a bizarre line of questioning from Guyanese law enforcement officials.

He was never handcuffed, which seems strange given the fact that he was allegedly involved in terrorism and drugs. He sat in a chair from approximately 2:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., answering their “ridiculous” questions while authorities went through the contents of his laptop computer.

“I said I'm not a drug dealer. I preach against drugs and I am not a terrorist. If anybody around me even had thoughts of a terrorist act, I'd get as far away from them as I possibly can,” said Mr. Muhammad. “They just had something that they were trying to do,” he added.

Following questioning, he was jailed.

He read and reflected on the situation while confined to the overcrowded and squalid conditions in the cell where he was held and swarmed by mosquitoes that bit him all over his arms and face.

During the ordeal, Mr. Muhammad reached out to his representative in the U.S. Congress, William “Lacy” Clay Jr. (D-Mo.) and the U.S. Embassy in Guyana was contacted and representatives immediately arrived to inform him that according to Guyanese law, an individual can be detained and jailed for up to 72 hours before officially being charged with a crime.

President of the Republic of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo. UN Photo/Erin Siegal
“The president informed me that no man in his country would be charged with a crime and remain in prison who is innocent. I want to thank His Excellency and I am grateful for whatever he did in looking into the case.”
—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

After appearing before a judge, it looked as if he would be jailed over the weekend.

The Nation of Islam has an active study group in Guyana located in Linden, which is about one hour outside of the capitol city of Georgetown. Its coordinator, Brother Dennis Muhammad upon hearing that Brother Akbar was in the country and experiencing difficulty, immediately contacted Student Regional Minister Rasul H. Muhammad who presides over the Seventh Region of the Nation of Islam, which includes South America.

A telephone conference was quickly arranged between the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and President of the Republic of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo and the diplomatic wheels were placed in motion. Additionally, a television station Mr. Muhammad had made an appearance on earlier in the week enlisted Attorney Nigel Hughes, one of the leading lawyers in Guyana, for legal assistance.

Akbar Muhammad, who regularly takes heart medication, had not taken it for three days and had left it at the hotel. He asked officials to allow him to go and retrieve it and his request was granted. During that time, he got access to a phone, and placed a call to Minister Farrakhan, who informed Brother Akbar that he had spoken with Guyana's President regarding the situation.

“It was impressive in the character of the President of Guyana that he sought to speak to the Honorable Louis Farrakhan to understand what was going on with our Brother Akbar Muhammad,” said Student Minister Rasul Muhammad. “I'm impressed with the President of Guyana after having been contacted, and the government of Guyana being contacted by the federal government and the CIA in the United States spreading negative rumors that would disrupt the good works of Brother Akbar, that the President had the character to seek out the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to get the facts,” Student Minister Rasul Muhammad added.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan praised and thanked Pres. Jagdeo for his swift intervention and shared aspects of the telephone conversation with The Final Call.

“I informed His Excellency that Brother Akbar has been my friend and companion for over 46 years and I can say with truth and certainty that he is as far away from drugs as the far planet Pluto is away from the sun and that is four billion six hundred million miles, and as far as terrorism—he would never come to any country to inspire such acts,” Minister Farrakhan told The Final Call. “The president informed me that no man in his country would be charged with a crime and remain in prison who is innocent. I want to thank His Excellency and I am grateful for whatever he did in looking into the case.”

The Guyanese people know and love Minister Farrakhan. Mr. Muhammad said as soon as he entered the jail, one Black man came up to him and asked, “Hey, aren't you that brother from the Farrakhan program?”

With the consistent outreach work of the Nation of Islam there, Minister Farrakhan's lectures are broadcast daily for one-hour and have been airing for years. Guyanese-Canadian Phillip Muhammad, who was also arrested, was instrumental in establishing and maintaining Minister Farrakhan's television ministry in Guyana. He paid for the entire trip—including airline tickets and lodging—out of his own pocket, said Akbar Muhammad.
Akbar Muhammad said once he arrived back to the police station, presumably to be subjected to more questioning, he noticed a change in the approach of his interrogators.
“I noticed that when I got back, they had a whole different attitude,” said Mr. Muhammad.

Emboldened by the recent conversation with Minister Farrakhan, Mr. Muhammad turned the tables on his would be accusers.

“They never mentioned anything about the president's office, so I brought it up with them,” Mr. Muhammad said. “I said, ‘Well, my leader—the leader of the Nation of Islam—has talked to your president about the situation.' They didn't respond. They didn't say a word.”

Within hours, he, Phillip Muhammad and a 26-year old Guyanese brother who was also arrested in connection with the bogus charges were released.

Akbar Muhammad and Atty. Hughes held a press conference outside of police headquarters demanding a formal apology. Atty. Hughes called the arrests and detainment “outrageous” and an “unjust claim from the beginning.”

“I think it was one of the worst moments for law enforcement in Guyana,” Atty. Hughes told The Final Call. “Within 10 minutes of arriving at the police station at the prison detention department of the police headquarters, I inquired about the reason for the arrest of Brother Akbar, the reason for his detention and what were the specifics of the allegations that they were attributing to him. They could provide absolutely no specifics of any activity that was remotely criminal. There was nothing of narcotics, nothing of terrorism.”

Atty. Hughes said the entire interrogation concentrated on basic information, such as his age, how many children he had, and who he met with. The fact that he met with political officials appears to be key. In his 23 years of practicing law in Guyana, the attorney had never seen a case like this.

“I have not come across such an act of maliciousness in terms of detaining somebody against whom they have absolutely no evidence,” said Atty. Hughes.

He has filed a formal demand for a formal apology from Guyana's police department with the commissioner of police for the arrest and detention and is exploring possible civil proceedings for false imprisonment and unlawful arrest. He will also be in discussion with attorneys in the U.S. regarding possible actions against Guyana regarding the prison conditions, which Atty. Hughes described as “appalling.”

Guyana's history and racial tension

Guyana, the only English speaking country in South America, is located on the northern tip of South America nestled between Venezuela and Suriname.

The Black slave trade flourished there with many slave traders becoming rich from the highly profitable and productive sugar cane fields. Originally a Dutch colony, it became a British possession in the early 1800s. Once the trans-Atlantic slave trade subsided, many Blacks remained there, however, other profiteers brought in “indentured servants” from East India to continue working the sugar plantations. Since obtaining its independence on May 26, 1966, and even before, ethnic tension has existed between Blacks and East Indians.

According to census figures, East Indians make up 50 percent of the population with Blacks 36 percent of its total population of nearly 767,000. This has led to political tension between the ruling political party dominated by East Indians and the opposition led by Blacks. Mr. Muhammad said this could have acted as a contributing factor to his arrest and detention.

National elections are scheduled to take place in August and perhaps the ruling party wanted to show Guyanese voters and the international community that they were being tough on terrorism.

Through the entire ordeal, described by Mr. Muhammad as “humiliating,” he thought about his 10 children, his 14 grandchildren, the members of the Nation of Islam and all those friends across the country and world who know him seeing the false media reports and wondering how they were affected. This incident has only inspired him to do more work, and to speak out for Muslims who have gone through the same harassment in airports and other places, said Mr. Muhammad.

“This is happening to too many Muslims,” he said. “Many (Muslims) have suffered this and have been harassed and detained and don't say anything, so they continue to do it. So what we have to do is that when this happens, we have to make some noise and let the world know that because I am a Muslim, I am being harassed like this and they just have to cease and desist. Anybody with a Muslim name can be accused of anything,” he added.


Documents were filed late Friday in DeKalb County State Court confirming the sexual misconduct case against Bishop Eddie Long has been dismissed "with prejudice," one day after it was revealed a settlement had been reached.

Reaction to the settlements by current and former members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church was mixed though most were relieved the case had been resolved.

Long, pastor of the Lithonia megachurch, which has an international following, ha denied the men's allegations through a spokesman shortly after they first became public in September and told his congregation he planned to "vigorously" fight them.

The accusations made against Long by Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson alleged that the bishop used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relations.

In one lawsuit, LeGrande said when he was 15 he and his mother were among the early members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte. When he was 16, he said, he went to Kenya with Long. Then when he was 17, they went on another trip to Kenya, and it was then that they had intimate relations, one of the suits alleged.

Rasheedah Oliver of DeKalb County, a member of New Birth for about a dozen years said the settlement means "we can move forward and continue to do what God would have us do."

Oliver said it doesn't bother her that she may never know the terms of the settlement. "I'm still steadfast," she said. "I know what he's done in my life, and I know what he has done in the lives of others."

Kamelya Hinson, a Web content editor who lives in Decatur, said the settlement has not shaken her faith.

"It doesn't make me think he's guilty or anything," she said. "I decided when this came out that I loved my pastor unconditionally. Even if he came out and grabbed the mic and said ‘I'm guilty,' it wouldn't change the way I feel about him. I wouldn't be angry like a lot of people are. You can't walk away after 15 years of being a member of a church."

Hinson said it doesn't bother her that she may never know whether the allegations are true. "He's done 1,000 good things," she said, "and he may or may not have done four really bad things."

Some, though, wish Long had done more to fight the accusations.

Former member Barbara Chumbler, who still visits New Birth from time to time, said she always believed the allegations were false, "although a settlement to me makes you look guilty."

She said she was disappointed the case was settled in mediation, although she added that she thought it was "an easy way to get it out of the way and get it over with."

Chumbler, who said she thinks Long is "like a lot of movie-star preachers, arrogant and a bit puffed up," said she still believes he is not guilty of the accusations.

New Birth issued a statement saying the decision was made "to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry."

"This resolution is the most reasonable road for everyone to travel," the statement continued.

Neither side would comment further and settlement terms were unknown.

According to Bernstein's office, neither she nor the plaintiffs would be available for an interview "on this matter, now or in the future. "

Thomas Eaton, a law professor at the University of Georgia, said two-thirds to three-fourths of all civil suits are resolved out of court “by settlements just like this.” He was not surprised that there would not be a public record of the terms of the settlement.

Mediation between the plaintiffs and Long, one of Atlanta's best-known religious leaders, began in February and have often been contentious. Exactly one month ago, DeKalb Judge Johnny Panos said a settlement was within "field goal range."

Panos acknowledged the discussions had been "benevolently intense," likening them to a tennis match, "with a lot of back and forth." Some of the mediation sessions lasted through the night.

Without a settlement, the case would have likely gone to trial this summer or fall.

After the charges first surfaced in September, Long vowed to "vigorously" defend himself against the charges.

"This thing I'm gonna fight," he said just days after the lawsuits surfaced.

The Roman Catholic Church isn't the only religious institution that has failed to respond directly and transparently to allegations of sexual impropriety.

Bishop Eddie Long, the pastor of the Georgia-based New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, has just settled out of court with the four young men who alleged Long had sexually coerced them. And neither side is talking.

After the allegations surfaced last September, Long said he would “vigorously” defend himself against charges that he used a combination of spiritual authority and material enticements (cars, jewelry, cash) to curry sexual favors from the men, who were 17 and 18 at the time.

Not any more, at least not in court.

And Long’s accusers won’t be talking either. B. J. Bernstein, their lawyer, said yesterday that they would not discuss the matter “now or in the future.”

Over the last few decades, observers of the Roman Catholic Church sex scandal have rightly argued for transparency — for taking sexual assault cases out of the hands of the secretive old boys network of priests and bishops and bringing them out into the open, including into the courts.

Why? So justice could be done, and so Catholic parents might come to feel safe once again entrusting their children to the care of priests.

American Zen centers have dealt in recent years with their own contagion of sexual abuse allegations against Zen masters, and they have done so with remarkable candor and transparency.

In December, a group of Zen leaders wrote a series of letters calling for the dismissal of Eido Tai Shimano from his position as abbot of the New York-based Zen Studies Society.

In her letter concerning the this case, Joan Halifax, founding abbot of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, did not pull any punches. She called Shimano an “embarrassment to Buddhism” and his behavior, brought to national attention last August in the New York Times, “abusive, gender-biased, predatory, misogynistic.”

But she also compared the situation to “family members in a dysfunctional family,” adding that the wider Buddhist community was “complicit in some way . . . as we all knew what was going on."

To be fair to Long, the case against Eido Shimano was clearer cut (recently unsealed papers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa detail decades of sexual liasons with his female students), as are many of the cases against pedophile priests. But the reason we can say that is because the evidence has come out.

In Catholicism’s sex scandals, critics have commonly criticized structural issues. Rather than blaming this priest or that, they have blamed the Catholic practice of clerical celibacy. Or, in the case of a recent study by researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, they blamed the permissiveness of the 1960s.

So I have to wonder whether there are structural issues in the Long case also. As names such as Swaggart, Bakker and Haggard remind us, he is not the first megachurch pastor accused of sexual abuse.

The Protestant Reformation was in part about getting away from the authority of priests and popes. Why approach God indirectly when you can do so directly, Protestants asked. Why not read the Bible for yourself?

Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence that many American Protestants today are reading scripture with frequency or care. On a battery of 12 questions about Christianity and the Bible, American Protestants got 6.5 questions right on average, for a score of 54%. Many must rely on pastors like Long to tell them what to do and think.

In her letter, Halifax discussed the dangers of “being under the spell of a teacher or person of authority.” But Christians fall under that spell too. And as they do, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to imagine that their ministers might be sexual predators.

I do not know what Bishop Eddie Long did or did not do with these four young men. I will say, however, that I am predisposed in these cases to give credence to the accusations of the alleged victims, if only because I
have seen sexual coercion happen so often in religious groups.

A civil trial might have changed that predisposition. And a complete and public investigation of Long’s actions by the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church could have done the same.

It’s a shame that neither of those things are going to happen. And those who have the most to be ashamed of — perhaps more than Long himself — are the people in the pews who come every weekend to worship him.

If you aren’t familiar with Long’s preaching style, you can view a sermon he gave in 2000 called “Stop the Cover Up.” To which I can only say, "Amen."


Scottie Pippen had a front-row seat to watch Miami's LeBron James help oust the Chicago Bulls from the playoffs, and the Hall of Famer believes James might supplant Pippen's former running mate Michael Jordan as the greatest player ever.

"Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game," Pippen said Friday on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on ESPN Radio. "But I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game because he is so potent offensively that not only can he score at will but he keeps everybody involved.

Mike and Mike in the Morning
Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen says Michael Jordan was the greatest scorer ever, but LeBron James could be the greatest NBA player ever.

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"You have to be on your P's and Q's on defense. No guy on the basketball court is a threat to score with LeBron James out there. Not only will LeBron dominate from the offensive end as well, but he's also doing it on the defensive end, which really makes him the complete package. He's able to get in those passing lanes, shoot those gaps and create transition opportunities where he is pretty much unstoppable."

Horace Grant, a close friend of Pippen's who won three titles with Jordan's Bulls, was shocked to hear of Pippen's comments.

"Pip is my man, and we will always be close but I totally disagree," Grant said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "LeBron is going to be one of the top players to ever play the game. But Michael Jeffrey Jordan, who we bumped heads with at times, is I think in my era, the best who ever played the game.

"I'm kind of at a loss for words because Michael Jordan ... when you win numerous MVPs and you've taken the team to six championships -- and probably could have been eight if he didn't retire those two years -- and MVPs in the playoffs ... and he made us better.

"Believe me, he made myself, Scottie, B.J. [Armstrong], even Bill Cartwright who I love, he made us better players. He gave us that confidence. But first we had to earn his trust. And once we earned his trust you saw championship after championship."

Pippen took to Twitter to defend himself later Friday.

"For all of you that don't know, I played the game you keep watching and cheering," Pippen tweeted.

Later he tweeted: "Don't get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday. "

The Heat closed out the Bulls with an 83-80 victory in Game 5 on Thursday, setting up an NBA Finals matchup with the Dallas Mavericks. A championship in his second career trip to the Finals could help solidify his legacy, but James already has put to rest one knock on his game, in Pippen's view.

Jordan vs. LeBron
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"I'm seeing a great player, and a player that we've all admired for the last [seven] years of his career, but this [eighth] year here, he has really brought the complete package," Pippen said. "I've never seen a player that can dominate a game the way LeBron James can. He don't always have to score. He makes plays for other guys. But when the game is on the line and you need a shot to be made, he's going to make that play. He's shown that throughout this series that he can make big shots.

"I think there has always been a knock on him that he don't make the big shots down the stretch. Well, I think they can put that behind him now. He's a shotmaker. And right now he's a man on a mission."

Pippen, who won six NBA titles alongside Jordan in the 1990s, said the Bulls exceeded their talent level to reach the Eastern Conference finals against the Heat.

"They have to keep their head up and realize they had a great season," said Pippen, who attends most Bulls games in his role as team ambassador. "I think you have to take something positive from this season. I think this team really laid their hearts out on the line and played great basketball all season long, but I think we all know that (the Bulls) were overachieving to some degree.

"I think we realized we really didn't have the personnel to go all the way through the playoffs and be considered the NBA champions. This Miami Heat team was established to be able to really run through every team in the league, and they have been able to do that thus far."

What planet is Scottie Pippen really from?? Lebron James hasn't surpassed Kobe's accomplishments yet and in no way can anyone truly compare Lebron to Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan has no equal still to this day in 2011. Kobe is the closest player to Michael Jordan that i've seen in my life to this day. Kobe is still above Lebron hands down in NBA accomplishments career-wise. Lebron is a beast with crazy talent but Kobe has won on every level and with the same franchise,he didn't have to switch teams to win championships with and without Shaq. Lebron had to team up with two other NBA Superstars to get back to the NBA Finals and potentially win his first championship after 8 years seasons. Wake up sports world,Wake up sports world!!!!!