Pippen backs off LeBron comments

Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan’s longtime teammate, raised eyebrows Friday morning when he said Heat superstar LeBron James "may be the greatest player to ever play the game."

The Hall of Famer’s comments on ESPN Radio’s "Mike and Mike in the Morning" drew a fierce response on Twitter, as many fans were incredulous at the perceived slight toward Jordan.

Pippen clarified Friday afternoon, tweeting that he does not believe James has eclipsed Jordan — yet.

"Don’t get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday," said Pippen, who was courtside for the Heat’s five-game Eastern Conference finals triumph as a Bulls TV analyst.

In his original comments, the 45-year-old, who won six NBA titles alongside Jordan, called his former teammate the best scorer to ever play the game.

"Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to play the game, 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."

He added, "No guy on the basketball court is not 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, who won three titles alongside Jordan and Pippen with the Bulls, declined to back up Pippen.

"Pip is my man, and we will always be close but I totally disagree," Grant said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "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."

On Thursday night James put the finishing touches on a dominant series, leading the Heat to an NBA Finals date against the Dallas Mavericks.

James led a late 18-3 run to break Bulls’ fans hearts with a series-clinching 83-80 win at the United Center. James had 28 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists, including the game-tying three-pointer and a jumper to put the Heat up for good with 29 seconds left.

It was also James’ suffocating defense on Bulls star Derrick Rose that helped the Heat reach their second NBA Finals in franchise history.