When the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2011 was announced on Monday April 4th, Rodman was the headliner. Other notables include sharp shooter Chris Mullin, a member of the original Olympic Dream Team, and Tex Winter, architect of the famous “Triangle Offense”.
It’s been a crazy ride in for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and Five-Time NBA Champion.
As a freshman at South Oak Cliff high school in Dallas Texas, Rodman was meager 5′ 8″ tall. Although he was on the basketball team, Rodman was no where near a star player. In fact, he could barely make a lay-up. After high school, Rodman would experience a sudden growth spurt. In one summer, he grew about a full foot tall. With this unexpected growth, Rodman would take another stab at playing basketball. He went on to attend Cooke County College in Gainesville, Texas. In his first season, Rodman would average 17 points and 13 rebounds. His stay at Cooke County College was short-lived due to academic issues. Rodman would get a second chance when he transferred to Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He would dominate there, averaging 25 points and 15 rebounds. During the NBA pre-draft tournament, Rodman earned MVP honors and garnered attention throughout the NBA, mainly from the Detroit Pistons who eventually drafted him in the second round of the 1986 NBA draft.
Rodman’s aggressive style of play was the perfect prototype to fit with the Detroit Pistons’ “Blue Collar” mentality. The “Bad Boys” were the perfect nickname for head coach Chuck Daley’s Pistons. Playing with the likes of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, John “Spider” Salley, Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson, Rick Mahorn and Adrian Dantley, Rodman developed into a great defensive player and outstanding rebounder. Those elements of his game earned him the nickname “The Worm”. He would eventually win back to back championships in 1989 and 1990 with Detroit. He was named defensive player of the year in 1990 and 1991. The relationship between Rodman and Detroit soured after coach Daley’s departure from the club after the 1991-1992 season. This marriage went bad and Rodman’s attitude change resulted in him being disciplined for actions such as missing Pre-Season camp. Rodman and the Pistons would eventually part ways in 1993 as they would trade the troubled star to the San Antonio Spurs.
During his stint with the Spurs, Rodman would continue his beastful ways on the court, averaging 17 rebounds a game. He easily won the rebounding crown in his two years with San Antonio. As great of a defender and rebounder as he was, Rodman started to develop into the personality we’ve now come to know. He started to change his hair color. Along with his bizarre style came the crazy on-court antics. Rodman would get into it with opposing players trying to get them out of their games. Rodman even went as far as to head butting a couple of players. Two seasons were all the Spurs could handle of the “Rebirth” of Dennis Rodman, as they would trade him to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
After the 1994-1995 season, the Chicago Bulls acquired Rodman. It was a huge gamble that paid off for coach Phil Jackson as “The Worm” along with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen became a dynamic trio. During his first season, Rodman would be instrumental in helping Chicago win a NBA record 72 regular season games, resulting in an NBA title. He would go on and win two more titles with the Bulls before it was all over. His battles with former Utah Jazz great Karl Malone during that run were epic.
After his term with the Bulls, Rodman would walk away from the NBA for good in 2000 after unsuccessful attempts with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.
Now there’s this big debate whether Dennis Rodman should or shouldn’t be a Hall of Famer. The issue should be…”What took it so long”? For those who have doubt, let’s review, shall we?
At 6′ 8″, Dennis Rodman is the greatest rebounder in history….pound for pound, and he’s a defensive guru. He’s earned seven straight rebounding crowns, seven All Defensive first team appearances and back to back defensive of the year awards. Did I mention five NBA championships? Scoring many points and obtaining an enormous amount of assists shouldn’t be the only prerequisites for getting into the Hall of Fame. Think about how many second and third scoring opportunities this man has created for his team by him getting to the offensive boards and limiting the opposing teams to single possessions with his defensive presence.
So for those who doubt, I see it as hate!
By Keith Madyun