Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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Remember two weeks ago when I said the Bulls were turning the page? Finally, their current team is no longer a punching bag. Unfortunately, one part of the Bulls’ decorated past is making headlines for the wrong reasons: Scottie Pippen.

Pippen has been bashing former teammate Michael Jordan in recent interviews. Some of his more recent claims include saying that he should be thought of as the greatest player in NBA history, not Jordan.

Another claim was that Pippen downplayed Jordan’s “flu game” in the 1997 Finals Jordan supposedly ate a pizza that gave him food poisoning before Game Five. Jordan was running on fumes in that game and won on the road. Finally, Pippen says the popular documentary “The Last Dance,” which aired in 2020, revolved around Jordan and made everyone else look bad.

Okay, slow your roll. Let’s go in order.

First of all, without number 23, Pippen wouldn’t have been as successful. Jordan has a bigger imprint on those six rings than he does.

Second, Jordan got out of bed an hour and a half before that Game Five tipoff, with food poisoning, and still dropped 38 points.

Lastly, what would you expect an MJ documentary to be about? Dennis Rodman? Maybe Pippen is just hyping up his new book, “Unguarded,” but are we sure he also hasn’t written a book called, “Liar?”

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, Random Stat

Highlight

In the words of legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

The Golden State Warriors apparently took this to heart, as the revenge tour is only starting. In 2019-2020, the Warriors were left in shambles after Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s injuries and Kevin Durant left for Brooklyn.

Last year, the Memphis Grizzlies bounced them from the playoffs in the play-in tournament.

However, this year might be different. Thompson is set to return around Christmas, and Curry is doing his usual craziness even at age 33. His 28.7 points per game average are second in the league only behind Durant.

Curry’s Warriors are 12-2, which is good for first in the Western Conference. Oh, and don’t forget Golden State still has Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman, as well as rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody waiting to get consistent minutes.

The Warriors are looking to reassert themselves as the best team in California and the league. I guess now is a smart time to buy a bunker for the apocalypse?

Lowlight

Orlando, Florida is the home of a certain mouse with a certain amusement park with a certain catchphrase. Of course, I’m referring to Mickey Mouse, Disney World and the phrase, “Where Dreams Come True.. Walter Elias Disney was arguably the best person to come to the sunshine state.

What about the Orlando Magic, though? Uh– let’s just say the magic of Mickey gave up on them.

So far this season, Orlando is where I expected them to be: bottom-feeders.

They are 3-11 and in last place in the Eastern Conference. New head coach Jamahl Mosley has a nice array of pieces he can use for future development, though. Cole Anthony is averaging 20.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.

The Magic also grabbed Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs in the lottery from the most recent draft. Although Suggs is having issues with shooting, that should be fixed sooner rather than later.

You may remember from last year that Orlando traded centerpieces Nikola Vučević, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier at the trade deadline to start over. This is going to take a while to mesh together, but don’t think it’ll mesh just in time for the playoffs.

Random Stat

Chucking up three-pointers from half-court is the name of the game today.

What are post moves? What are midrange games? Nope, the logic is, “Three points is better than two.”

However, we may be underappreciating one part of an offense: free throws.

I know it’s still early, but Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie of the Washington Wizards are hitting their free throws like it’s nothing. Beal leads the league with 97.6%, while Dinwiddie is in third with 94.4%.

One of the new elements this season was the rule change regarding intentionally drawing fouls (I’m looking at you, Trae Young and James Harden). Basically, you can’t flop or lean into defenders to draw fouls. Thus, it’s been harder to earn trips to the free-throw line.

With Beal and Dinwiddie making their shots, it’s no wonder that the Wizards are in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 10-3 record. The record for free throw percentage during an entire season is 98.1% by José Calderón in 2008-2009.

Records are meant to be broken unless we’re talking about Bill Russell’s ring count.

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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