It was announced on Thursday that former Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen is close to signing a two game contract with a professional basketball team – in Finland.
The news comes just months after the 41-year-old former NBA superstar attempted to relaunch his career with the Los Angeles Lakers in time for the 2007 playoffs.
Ridiculous? Yes, but it’s not uncommon.
This summer, Indiana Pacers fans found themselves cringing upon hearing the news that their own beloved Reggie Miller was eyeing a comeback with the Boston Celtics. Or were those Celtics fans cringing at the thought of the 42-year-old Miller trying to keep up with the Dwyane Wades and Carmelo Anthonys of the modern league?
And we can’t forget the futile attempts of, both the 46-year-old Dennis Rodman, and Shawn Kemp. The same Kemp, who, at age 37 may seem like the baby in the group, is in the worst shape of them all.
What is it that makes these players insist that they’ve still got something left in the tank? Maybe, just maybe, they’ve kept their bodies in good enough condition to run around for a few minutes every night, but at what point is it worth jeopardizing an established legacy just to show they can still play the game they had originally left for a reason.
I’ll admit, whenever I hear of a player I grew up idolizing contemplating returning to the game I get mixed feelings.
Ten years ago I wouldn’t have cared if a retired All-Star decided to dust off his kicks and rejoin the league, and in another 10 years I’ll probably crap myself if I hear of a player doing the same. But now, I’m somewhere in between.
The reason for my indecision, I believe, is this. Ten years ago, at age 10, I was just beginning to warm up to the idea of obsessing over the sport for the rest of my life. When retired legend, Dominique Wilkins, decided to return with the San Antonio Spurs, and then again with the Orlando Magic a few years later, I didn’t really know what to expect. While Wilkins was entering his prime in the mid-80s, I was leaving my mother’s womb, and while Wilkins was leaving the league in the mid-90s, I was entering my prime as a sports fan.
I had no memories of the man, and thus no emotional investment in whether his comeback was a success or complete flameout.
In another ten years, when players like Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and Tim Duncan have since retired, I guarantee we’ll hear them or their peers, mulling over the option of signing with a playoff team for cheap, hoping for one last chance at glory.
And I imagine, having watched this current crop of athletes since the beginning of their careers, that I’ll cross my fingers and hope it never happens. Pray it never happens, because that way their legacies, the ones they’ve been forming in my mind and yours, won’t be jeopardized.
But with that established it only leaves more grey area regarding the generation of players currently going through retirement boredom, the Pippens, and the Millers.
Scottie, Reggie, Shawn Kemp and Dennis Rodman are all players whom I am familiar with, but lack a full appreciation for. Since they were already in, or past, their primes when I discovered the sport, I don’t have the attachment to them that I do to Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Tracy McGrady, all of whom are players I have watched, loved, and adored since I could stay up past eight o’clock to watch a game on TV.
I imagine that my father, or any sports fan lucky enough to watch Scottie Pippen from the beginning of his career to the end, is hoping that Pippen opts to relax, take up the sport of golf, and never set foot on a basketball court again. And imagine that my little cousin couldn’t care less.
But as for me? I’m going to cross my fingers and hope to find a cable network that televises Finnish basketball.
Just one more glimpse of a player I never got enough of.