NBL 2023: Andrew Gaze called out for ‘very handsy’ antics with NBA legend Scottie Pippen, Melbourne United win season opener

Gazey, there’s this thing called personal space.

Aussie basketball legend Andrew Gaze had viewers cringing in their couches as he cosied up to NBA royalty Scottie Pippen at Thursday night’s NBL season opener.

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Six-time NBA champion Pippen has flown to Melbourne to help launch the NBL season at the request of his former Chicago Bulls teammate Luc Longley.

Pippen was courtside at John Cain Arena as Melbourne United kicked off the season with a dominant 82-67 win as Matthew Dellavedova impressed for United.

But all eyes were on Pippen, who made a cameo on ESPN’s commentary alongside Gaze midway through the third quarter.

As Gaze and co-commentator Jack Heverin quizzed Pippen on his NBA career and his thoughts on the NBL, viewers couldn’t help but notice Gaze was getting a bit touchy feely with Pippen.

Ecstatic to be in his presence, Gaze couldn’t stop reaching over and grabbing Pippen’s shoulder or touching him on the arm as he spoke to him.

It didn’t seem to bother Pippen too much, who sang the praises of the NBL as a pathway for young players to reach the NBA.

Melbourne United kicked off their campaign in style, with a noticeable fitter Dellavedova dropping 12 of his 17 points in the first quarter.

New recruit Luke Travers showed by he’s an NBA player in waiting, scoring a game high 20 points on 7-15 field shooting while he also recorded seven rebounds, a steal and a block.

Ariel Hukporti’s first game back for United after missing all of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon was also a success as he helped himself to 14 rebounds, three blocks and a steal, while Rob Loe chimed in with nine points and five rebounds off the bench after crossing from New Zealand.

Pippen has revealed to CODE Sports just how close he came to coaching the Sydney Kings, through his connection with Longley.

Pippen confirmed he and the Kings were in talks following the departure of then coach, Adam Forde, and before Chase Buford eventually landed the role.

“We were very close but I wasn’t too comfortable with how things were going with Covid,” Pippen revealed.

Longley had previously acknowledged the move telling ESPN: “It would have been a complex one, he doesn’t have a lot of coaching experience, but I do know what his basketball brain is like. He would have been good at capturing the imaginations of the group and leading them.”

— With NCA Newswire

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