Pippen: Lakers can make run at 72
The Chicago Bulls' NBA-record 72-win season is a seemingly unapproachable mark. Since the Bulls accomplished the feat in 1995-96, only three teams have reached 67 wins and only one, the '96-97 Bulls, has cracked 69.
There is one member of that record-setting Bulls team, however, who believes there is a team equipped to make a run at it this season.
"The Lakers have a chance,"
The parallels between the two teams are eerily similar. Like Pippen's Bulls, the Lakers have a dominant superstar (
"Ron is an infant compared to Dennis," Pippen said with a laugh. "Dennis was off the charts."
According to Pippen, one of the keys to the Bulls' success with Rodman --which included three championships in Rodman's three seasons with the team -- was not to focus on preventing the distractions. It was dealing with them when they occurred.
"Dennis skipped practices, he was late for practices [and] he showed up late for games," Pippen said. "But was that a distraction? No, that happens in the game every day. Even though Dennis was still trying to be Dennis with us and self-promote, he was never really a distraction."
When problems did arise, Pippen credited the Bulls' strong veteran leadership and the unwavering backing of Jackson for being able to keep Rodman's antics in check. That same responsibility, Pippen says, now falls to Bryant, who must figure out a way to harness Artest's talent while keeping his mind focused on the team goals.
"Everybody should police themselves and it is about individuals being responsible for themselves," Pippen said. "But ultimately, it falls on Kobe. When Artest hauls off and does something totally out of character for the team, that's not going to be taken well by Kobe. He has to talk to him in practice, get him on the right page and let him know what [his] demands are as a leader of the basketball team. So when game time comes, it's about a routine."
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