My second Jordan book in three months. Halberstam delivers some incredible nuggets and anecdotes in the book. While “The Jordan Rules” was enjoyable, Halberstam digs deeper into the psyche and motivations of those Bulls teams.
The book did get me thinking about how things might have been different if the Sonics and Bulls had completed a Shawn Kemp for Scottie Pippen trade. George Karl wanted it, Jerry Krause wanted it. If I recall correctly, the deal was ready to be finalized on draft day on 1994 before then-Sonics owner Barry Ackerly got cold feet — bowing to fan pressure — and exercised his veto power.
If the deal had gone through, the Sonics’ starting lineup for the 1994-95 season: Gary Payton at point, Kendall Gill at the 2, Pippen as the small forward, Detlef Schrempf at the four, Perkins at the five.
I like that lineup, I really do. That’s a scary defense for any opposing team: agile, athletic, quick, versatile. Nate McMillan comes off the bench. Sure, the Sonics would be a bit undersized, but they make up for it by implementing a suffocating press initiated by their two floor generals, GP and Pippen. Karl’s dream team.
Offensively, Karl would have his favorite toys, a cadre of players who could bring the ball up or play off it. Back then (and now), Karl was all about playing uptempo; he relished a frenetic pace based on defense and transition offense. Pippen would step right in and fill the scoring void — the Sonics averaged 110 points per game that season — and create shots for every player on the floor.
The Supes lost to the Lakers in the first round that season. I blame the Tacoma Dome for the loss (the Coliseum was being renovated — poorly as we all found out — at the time). Tacoma is no place for NBA basketball (and neither is Renton). But what if we had Pippen instead of the Reignman? Cedric Ceballos would’ve been shut down, but Nick Van Exel still might vex GP. I might hop over to Whatifsports.com — my new addiction — to find out.
Of course, we can only play what if forever. Like, what if the Sonics were still in Seattle? Man, I miss my SuperSonics.