O'Donnell: Pippen says Scotty Jr. has got game
SCOTTIE PIPPEN WILL BE juggling a pair of family affairs this weekend. But son will trump nephew.
So he won't be at the Gentile Center Sunday when sister Kim's 6-10 Kavion Pippen and Southern Illinois invade to face the reeling Loyola Ramblers (ESPNU, 3 p.m.)
Instead, from his Southern California base, the majestic Bulls falcon will be in the gymnasium at the tony Sierra Canyon School to watch star-stepping Scotty Jr. play a back-to-backer Friday and Saturday nights.
"Kavion and I have a lot of contact," Pippen told The Daily Herald this week. "He's come a long way. He's 5 inches taller now than when he got out of high school and I'm not so sure his skill set is in the perfect system for where he is as a player. I think he'll need one more stop (G-League, overseas) after this season. Then I absolutely think he'll be NBA caliber."
As for the 6-1 Scotty Jr., who is averaging 18 ppg. and playing point for the nation's No. 12-ranked prep team: "I'm prejudiced. I think he's benefitted from all the advanced levels of play he's experienced. I think he keeps setting his own bar higher and higher. The only thing I ask is that his work ethic, both school and ball, be there. And it has."
Scotty plays alongside K.J. Martin -- son of Kenyon Martin -- and strikingly talented wing Cassius Stanley. The defending state champ Trailblazers are 21-2. Both losses were to Florida's platinum-plus Montverde Academy, the last on Monday in Springfield, Mass. It was Junior's second national appearance on an ESPN channel.
Young Pippen committed to Vanderbilt two weeks ago. Critical lures, according to Pops Pippen, were: "Academics, for sure. And the fact my family ties with (head coach) Bryce Drew go back to when I got traded to Houston and he was a rookie there. Even then, he showed a basketball IQ that would remind you of 'Pax' (John Paxson) or (Steve) Kerr."
And what about Scotty Jr. and the historic late Pippen growth spurt?
"The DNA says it'll happen," said Scottie, who famously blasted from 6-1 to 6-8 after age 17. "Right now, he's already an advanced version of me. With more length, there's just no telling."
Other than, it's a family affair.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, Joe DiMaggio? became a very real question in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood last weekend. That's because overseers of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame suddenly lifted their statue of Joltin' Joe after close to 20 years near Taylor Street.
The hit-and-run is part of the Hall's planned move to Rosemont. Still, some residents were riled. And while Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens -- a huge sports fan -- wants the NIASHOF in his unique burg, no deal has been finalized about space or place.
Not to worry said George Randazzo, who started the ambitious Hall more than 40 years ago: "We've met with Mayor Stephens and we're all on the same page. All should be finalized in a couple of months. We want Rosemont and they want us. We're also expanding satellite Halls into San Diego, Staten Island (N.Y.) and Boston's North End."
DiMaggio was the first inductee into the temple of red, white and green. The Hall's move was prompted after the building housing it was sold. The $150,000 statue is now in storage in Elk Grove, quite possibly not far from an automatic-drip Mr. Coffee maker.
STREET-BEATIN': With the fragmented Blackhawks Q-less at the All-Star break, icicles are wondering: As a second-generation keeper of the flame, is Stan Bowman the real thing or the NHL's answer to Julian Lennon? And is it much too late for goodbyes? … Two days into their second annual Labor Day weekend "team bonding trip" to the Bahamas, Houston Rockets coaches knew Carmelo Anthony was a "no fit." All else -- including Anthony's current flyover with the Bulls -- is career coda for the take-the-money-and-gun one. … Self-absorbing Dan McNeil -- the Lake Calumet belly flopper holding down afternoons on WSCR-AM (670) -- got yet another excellent downtown writer to bite on a tedious recitation of his excessively public twilight zones. McMaudlin may still wind up cast as Blanche DuBois in an Entercom Chicago production of "Streetcar." … Inoffensive Chuck Garfien hosts a panel discussion at 6 p.m. Friday with Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and Jason Benetti as NBC Sports Chicago begins its multiplatform coverage of "SoxFest 2019." … New Orleans Saints backers should have known they were in for strange sailing last weekend when Jimmy Buffett opened the implosion with a notably languid national anthem. By "proof through the night," even Francis Scott Key might have been kneeling in protest. … Ace Daily Herald golf columnist Len Ziehm bagged a trio of national honors at the International Network of Golf Media Awards in Orlando. … Kraft Heinz Co. and its mad men are trimming a 60-second Super Bowl spot down to 30 for its Devour line that attempts to titillate with the phrase "frozen food porn." Maybe Charlie Sheen produced. (YouTube "devour super bowl."). … And odd reports that David Kaplan somehow made it through all broadcast segments from the Cubs Convention without a single mention of his "good friend" Tom Izzo.