Could we ever argue the fact that great basketball players were born with predispositions to become masters in the game? Scottie Pippen gives us the arguments to state that players are not born, but made. With his 150-pound and 6-foot-1 physique, Scottie wasn’t the first candidate that coaches noticed. Don Dyer, the coach at the University of Central Arkansas, was hesitant to put Pippen into the team. That’s why he gave him the role of a team manager.
That’s not as fancy as it sounds.
The team manager is in charge of some coaching during practices, but he’s mostly there to keep players hydrated and manage the equipment. Scottie was meant for greater things. It took a lot of practice, humility, and dedication for him to appear in the Chicago Bulls roster and grow into the player we all learned to love.
The Scottie Pippen College Experience: What Can We Learn from It?
In July 1987, Coach Don Dyer shared the story with the Washington Post. He explained how he decided to delay bringing Scottie into the team. His height was the reason (or the lack of it, to be precise). Dyer made a famous statement: “He was like a young colt; he needed time to grow.”
And boy, did he grow. By the end of his sophomore year, he was 6-foot-6, and he didn’t stop growing until he reached 6-foot-8 (2.03 meters). During his junior and senior years at the University of Central Arkansas, Scottie became one of the most dominant players in the team. He was noticed for his speed and fearless dedication until the last second of the game.
Scottie’s college played in the NAIA, an athletics association for small colleges and universities. These schools don’t get as much attention as the ones in the Ivy League. However, when the Scottie Pippen stats went to 23.6 points and almost 60% field goal shooting on average, he got noticed by the NBA scouts.
Scottie shared some details about the recruitment process in an interview from 2017: “I was actually drafted by Seattle, but they had an existing agreement in place that I was to be immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls. I was pretty happy with that because Michael Jordan – the greatest player to ever play the game – was already playing in Chicago.”
From there on, life and fame took off. We can talk on and on about the benefits of sport in college, explaining how healthy physical activity is for your body and mind. But when we look at examples like these, we realize that being part of a college team is not just about fitness and amusement. In some cases, it paves the path to one’s bright future.
It Was Never Meant to Be Easy
Professional athletes go a long way before we see them in the spotlight. All Chicago Bulls players invested time, effort, and physical strength in their growth. Scottie Pippen is practical proof that great things in life don’t come easy.
It’s a valuable lesson for all of us to learn.
If you’re part of the college basketball team and it becomes too much, you’ll think about giving up. Every player gets to that point. You’ll try to pay for your essay when you don’t have time to complete all assignments since you have to get to practice every day. You’ll skip a class or two because you can’t force yourself to get out of bed in the morning. Your entire body aches. You’ll miss some of the best parties because you have practice early in the morning and you’re not allowed to drink.
All great players make such sacrifices. Even if they are not considered great at the beginning, they still make sacrifices. It’s the growth mindset that keeps them going. They are convinced that no matter what point they are at, they can only get better if they practice more.
The Sky’s the Limit
Scottie Pippen didn’t get an athletic scholarship for college. He got a grant to work as the manager of the basketball team, and he focused on his major: industrial education. The humble boy from rural Arkansas grew into one of the best basketball players in the history of the NBA. We won’t talk about the controversies that occurred off the field after he got famous. There’s a good lesson to learn from his example: the one of commitment, strength, and never giving up.
Basketball is a wonderful thing. When it draws you in, it becomes your life. If you have an opportunity to become part of a college basketball team, don’t miss it!