Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen criticized Lakers forward LeBron James on Thursday, saying James showed “little to no effort” in a recent game and that he doesn’t have a “clutch gene” that his former Bulls teammate, Michael Jordan, had.
“When I look at LeBron, he’s not what Michael was as a player,” Pippen said during an NBA All-Star segment on ESPN’s First Take. “He’s not even what Kobe Bryant was as a player. So, when you talk about trying to compare Michael’s instinct, his ability to take over games, his ability to want to have the last shot, LeBron doesn’t have that gene. That’s not in him. Kobe has that gene. I see a little bit of it in Paul George. Kawhi (Leonard), (Russell) Westbrook. … Not too many players go on the basketball court with that.”
Pippen won six championships playing alongside Jordan. He’s offered both praise and skepticism of James in the past, even saying that James is “probably ahead of Jordan” in 2017. His comments on the Jordan vs. James debate have fluctuated over the years.
During the ESPN segment, Pippen was particularly critical of James’ lack of desire in a 117-113 loss to the Atlanta Hawks earlier this week.
“I can sit here and say today, I watched LeBron the other night,” Pippen said. “The game was on the line. And he made little or no effort to go after the ball.”
ESPN host Max Kellerman defended James, claiming the three-time NBA champion has already played more minutes than Jordan did in his entire career.
“It’s not that,” Pippen said. “It’s that clutch gene. I’m not taking it away that he don’t know how to win, and he’s not willing to have the ball in his hands. But the players that have that clutch gene, they’re gonna go get that ball.”