Sports

Kevin Durant and Scottie Pippen’s beef, explained

There’s some fresh, inter-generational NBA beef between Kevin Durant and Scottie Pippen after the former Bulls star made some highly critical comments of Durant’s performance in the playoffs.

It all popped off due to an interview in GQ with Tyler R. Tynes, in which Pippen was critical of Durant’s play in Game 7 against the Bucks. The key moment hinged on Durant missing the game winning shot in overtime even after he nearly won the game in regulation with an incredible bucket in the final seconds. Unfortunately, Durant’s toe was on the three-point line and the basket merely forced OT instead of winning the game.

“He needs to learn how to utilize his teams. He has to learn how to set up his teammates to be better. That’s it,” Pippen said, when asked about what Durant still has to learn. “He was taking all the shots. You done played the whole game, bro! And they’ve got guys physically wearing you down. You gonna lose.”

Pippen went on to compared Durant to LeBron James, insinuating that LeBron is a far smarter player who wouldn’t have attempted the game-tying shot at all.

“He ain’t gonna take that shot. He’s gonna be smarter,” Pippen quipped, “He’s gonna force a double team. That’s what KD wasn’t able to do. He was so exhausted he couldn’t even go to the bucket.”

Now, this is a pretty curious criticism of Durant. He was really the only member of the Nets truly playing to his potential in Game 7, needing to pick up the slack for James Harden on a night Harden was shooting 29 percent from the field, and a woeful 2-12 from three, while Joe Harris was also struggling. With the game on the line there really wasn’t another player who made sense to take that shot. So, to earmark this as being his failure is wholly bizarre.

The story doesn’t end here, far from it. Everyone in the world should know at this point that if you say something about Durant online, and attach your name to it — he’s coming. It didn’t take long.

Unloading both barrels, Durant went after two infamous moments in Pippen’s past. The first is a reference to the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, mentioned in the documentary The Last Dance. With Jordan in retirement, the Bulls returned to the playoffs but in the critical final moment of Chicago’s series against the Knicks, coach Phil Jackson drew up the final play to have Toni Kukoc take the final shot, not Pippen. Pippen, so incensed he didn’t get the chance to step out of Jordan’s shadow for good, was so angry he refused to enter the game. A decision that forever tarnished Pippen’s reputation, and one he stands by, telling GQ:

“After all I’ve been through with this organization, now you’re gonna tell me to take the ball out and throw it to Toni Kukoc? You’re insulting me. That’s how I felt.”

Durant’s second tweet, another shot at Pippen, referred to the end of the 1996-97 season, when Pippen needed surgery, but decided not to go under the knife until the end of the summer, missing a significant portion of the 1998 season. He infamously said “I’m not going to f*** up my summer,” during The Last Dance.

Pippen hasn’t responded to Durant, and there’s probably a good chance he won’t (nor should he). Beefing with Kevin Durant is a bad, bad idea — especially when the foundation for that beef is spotty at best. One thing’s sure: There’s no love lost between the two, and this might be simmering for a while.



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