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Kinder, gentler

Scottie Pippen feels 'bad' for Barkley, despite their feud

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Posted: Thursday December 09, 1999 10:26 PM

  Growing feelings: Scottie Pippen joked that he may send Barkley a plant after his career-ending injury. Allsport

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Scottie Pippen, who hasn't spoken to Charles Barkley since their nasty public feud in September, had kinder words for his former teammate Thursday.

Barkley ruptured a tendon in his left knee in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, ending what the Houston forward has said will be his last season.

"I feel bad for him," Pippen said before his Portland Trail Blazers played Minnesota. "I didn't want to see him end his career like that. I wanted him to go out fighting."

Pippen, who was traded from the Rockets to Portland three days after ripping Barkley in a television interview, said he doesn't feel the need to send condolences to Barkley, but he might give him a call.

"I may send him a plant," he said, laughing. "I feel bad for him, actually, but I don't know if I plan on doing anything for him. I may give him a call and make him feel better or make him feel worse, I don't know."

Pippen and Barkley played together on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, led by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, that easily won the gold medal in Barcelona. After winning his sixth NBA title with Jordan in Chicago, Pippen went to Houston in a sign-and-trade deal that quickly soured.

Pippen didn't like the Rockets' methodical half-court offense, and he didn't like Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon getting the ball most of the time. The frustration came to a head Sept. 29, when Pippen, perhaps trying to force a trade, went on ESPN and called Barkley "selfish" and "fat" and said he didn't have the dedication to win an NBA championship.

Barkley never did win his title, but Pippen said that wouldn't affect his place among the game's finest players.

"Charles is a great player. He's a legend; he's a Hall of Famer," Pippen said. "You don't have to label him that he didn't win a championship. He's still great in his own respective way. He's one of the greatest 6-6 guys that ever played the game, and I'm sure he'll be remembered as one of the greatest players at the forward position."

The two players did not shake hands or speak during their last meeting, which the Blazers won 91-88 in overtime Nov. 26 at the Rose Garden. But Pippen said he would miss playing against him.

"I'm sure that a lot of teams are now going to miss the fact that he's not out there, because it's a lot of fun to win when you're able to beat a team with him on it," he said.


 
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