Scottie Pippen's solid shooting effort in Maine
They were probably the biggest hands ever to hold a biathlon rifle.
They were Scottie Pippen's, and in their grip, the three-foot-long weapon looked more like a pistol as a dozen reporters and dignitaries looked on.
Pippen was in the northern Maine town of Fort Kent last weekend to watch a pair of World Cup biathlon races, which combine cross-country skiing and shooting.
Afterward, he had ambled out to point number 27 on the rifle range, where he was handed a modified .22.
"Y'all get back!" he said, waving away some overzealous photographers.
Then he fired off five rounds. The first was way off; the rest were closer, but still not that close.
"I need another clip," he said.
No, this was not a dream. This was actually Scottie Pippen, braving a New England winter in massive rubber boots and a black Nike cap.
Pippen was in Maine as the guest of Sergey Kushchenko, the CEO of the Russian Biathlon Union, who's also the right-hand man of New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
He did his best to blend in, dressing in all black: big puffy snowpants, a cavernous canvas hunting jacket. But it's hard to be missed when you're 6-foot-8 and one of a dozen or so African-American people in the entire municipality -- and your credential actually reads "Scottie Pippen -- VIP."
After making an appearance at the awards ceremony, where he dwarfed the women's winner, Pippen headed to the range, with Kushchenko and Ivan Tcherezov, a star Russian biathlete, in tow.
On his feet, Pippen missed all five shots from his first clip. Then he sat down, pioneering a new shooting position. (In competition, biathletes fire while prone, or standing -- not in between.)
With the gun in his lap, Pippen did something that no one expected him to do: He actually hit a target. Then, another and another. He reloaded, then took down the last two, with a fist pump.
"How many shots it take me?" he asked.
Pippen is known for a different kind of shooting percentage, but it sure seemed like he had a knack for this half of biathlon. In the press conference, someone asked what it would take to get him out on skis.
"A guaranteed contract," he said.