Dennis Rodman, the flamboyant and controversial basketball star, has made it into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Although the official announcement will not come till Monday, Rodman revealed the news during the Chicago Bulls’ 101-96 win over the Detroit Pistons yesterday night. Ironically, Rodman played for both teams. Rodman was present at the game for his jersey retirement ceremony. His No. 10 jersey now hangs in the rafters along with fellow Pistons “Bad Boys” Isiah Thomas (No. 11), Vinnie Johnson (No. 15), Joe Dumars (No. 4), Bill Laimbeer (No. 40), and their coach Chuck Daly (No. 2, the 2 representing the number of championships he won). The “Bad Boys” are finally back together.
Now I want to say something about Rodman’s induction. My opinion? He ABSOLUTELY belongs in the Hall of Fame. The Hall is reserved for great players, not just great scorers. Rodman is arguably the greatest rebounder of all time despite being only 6’7 and one of the greatest defenders of all time. Upon entering the league, Rodman made it known that anyone could score, so instead, he wanted to be remembered as the greatest rebounder of all time. Well he sure can make a claim for that title. He mastered his discipline (rebounding) greater than anyone else, even more than Michael Jordan in his ability to score (relax, just trying to make a point…MJ is still the greatest). And it’s not like he lacked the ability to score; he just chose not to focus on that. Rodman averaged 25.7 points at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in three seasons. I know it’s only college, but nonetheless, that’s still an impressive average. As a testament to his mastery of rebounding, the 7 consecutive rebounding titles from 1992-1998 will suffice (that’s a record by the way).
And going back to the claim that he is indeed the greatest rebounder of all time, check out this article on the blog Chasing 23. Basically, it makes the claim that Dennis Rodman, who averaged a career high 18.7 rebounds/game in 1992 would have surpassed even Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged an NBA record 27.2 rebounds/game in 1961 if Rodman’s pace was adjusted in 1961 terms. How exactly? In 1961 when the average game consisted of 73.2 total rebounds. In 1992, the average game consisted of only 43.6 totals rebounds. By this statistic, Wilt Chamberlain had nearly 30 more rebounding opportunities per game than Dennis Rodman did, yet only averaged 8.5 more rebounds. Given that Rodman pulled down 43% of all rebounds per game in 1992, had Rodman played in 1961, based on normalized statistics adjusting for pace, he would have averaged approximately 31.4 rebounds per game, or more 4 rebounds per game than Chamberlain’s NBA record. Pretty interesting stuff.
Moving along, Rodman was not only the greatest rebounder, but as I mentioned, he is one of the greatest defenders of all time. He was one of the few players who could guard all five positions. Remember, the guy was only 6’7 yet he was matched up on occasions against opposing centers, including Shaquille O’Neal, who stands at 7’1. Who was responsible for guarding MJ during crunch time of those heated Bulls-Pistons playoff games in ’89 and ’90? Rodman was, not Isiah Thomas. His 2 Defensive Player of the Year Awards and 7 All Defensive First Team nominations speak to his defense. The bottom line is Rodman was a one of a kind player, someone who comes once every blue moon, a game changer, the ultimate X-factor. Teams need players like Rodman. I guarantee you if the Miami Heat had Rodman, they would be sitting pretty right now. A guy who can gobble up rebounds, play tenacious defense, and be an enforcer is a valuable commodity; just look at this way, he made the teams he played on better. His 5 rings prove that. Sure he doesn’t fit the prototypical Hall of Famer aka a scorer. But his incredible rebounding and defense should not be held in a lower light than a 25 points/game average.
Did you know that Magic Johnson, one of the greatest players of all time, didn’t make a single All Defensive Team? Yeah really. Should we punish his lack of D? Of course not. The same standards apply to Rodman. Should we punish his lack of offense? No. I mean if guys like Bill Bradley whose career averages were 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists and K.C. Jones whose career averages were 7 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 38.7 FG% and 64.7 FT% can get into the Hall, then so can Rodman. I would even argue that James Worthy might not be deserving of the Hall either. The guy made it in based on his exploits in two games (Games 6 and 7) during the 1988 NBA Finals (where he picked up the “Big Game James” nickname). Anyways, I’m not here to argue about other players’ credentials and whether they deserve to be in the Hall. I’m only stating that Rodman most certainly does.
Oh and one more thing…people will most likely bring up Rodman’s questionable character as something to warrant his exclusion from the Hall of Fame. The Hall is for on the court accomplishments, not off the court ones. End of story. The Chasing 23 article I linked above also touches on this. If we were only inducting saints, you would have a pretty empty Hall (same goes for the Pro Football and Baseball Hall of Fames). Rodman’s career averages and accolades are listed below.
- Games Played: 911
- Games Started: 573
- Minutes/Game: 31.7
- FG%: .521
- 3P%: .231
- FT%: .584
- RPG: 13.1
- APG: 1.8
- SPG: .7
- BPG: .6
- PPG: 7.3
- 5× NBA Champion (1989-1990, 1996-1998)
- 2× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1990-1991)
- 2× NBA All-Star (1990, 1992)
- 2× All-NBA Third Team (1992, 1995)
- 7× All-Defensive First Team (1989-1993, 1995-1996)
- All-Defensive Second Team (1994)
- 7× NBA rebounding champion (1992-1998)
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