Send Rodman to Springfield
The Worm was a monster, and it’s time we pay tribute.
by Allen Kim | @_allenkim
Dennis Rodman is eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame for the second time since hanging up his threads. For a player who should be considered a first ballot Hall of Famer, he was barred entry by voters in his first qualified year.
Voters turned a blind eye to the mercurial forward because his off court antics overshadowed many of his accomplishments on the hardwood. Aside from his flamboyant personality and wild forays into the public spotlight, the argument used against him making the Hall was that he had a one-dimensional game. However, if there are players who were considered to be offensive specialists in the Hall, why can’t there be a defensive specialist?
Rodman was easily one of the versatile defenders to ever play the game. No matter the position, he was able to expertly defend any player of all sizes from baseline to baseline. A feat not many, if any at all, can lay claim to.
Scottie Pippen, former teammate and recent Hall of Fame inductee, is considered to be one of the top five greatest defensive forwards of all time. Rodman was not only better than him in that department, but the very best at the position.
While Rodman’s height limited his ability to block shots and he never really gambled for steals, when you needed to lock down a player, the Worm was your man.
Rodman was regularly placed out of position to guard the best centers and power forwards from the opposing team. Not only did he effectively limit their offensive output, he shut them down on many occasions. Keep in mind that he did all of this while at a considerable height and weight disadvantage.
Back to back Defensive Player of the Year awards coupled with seven All-Defensive First Team selections only helps to further solidify the argument.
But more than anything else, Rodman will always be remembered for his impeccable work on the glass.
Rodman’s rebounding prowess is unmatched in the history of the NBA. Standing at 6-7, 228 pounds, he battled against players who not only towered above him, but outweighed him by a substantial margin.
Pound for pound, he had no equal in this department.
Rodman’s career rebounding average comes in at 13.1 per game, good enough for 10th best in the history of the sport. These numbers are slightly skewed due to the fact that he entered the league as a small forward playing limited minutes on a stacked Pistons squad. Had he been given starter’s minutes from the beginning, his career rebounding average would have undoubtedly surpassed the 15 per game mark.
Since 1973, he holds five of the eight highest season rebounding averages (18.7, 18.3, 17.3, 16.8, 16.1). His seven consecutive rebounding titles from 1992 to 1998 is an NBA record.
Rodman’s career offensive rebounding numbers come in at 4.8, with a personal best 6.4 mark during the 1991-92 NBA season. His ability to generate extra possessions for his team led to more scoring opportunities and subsequently victories.
A criteria that frequently gets lost in all the stats is the fact that he made both his teams and teammates better. If intangibles were measured as a statistic, Rodman would have led the league every year.
After the Pistons drafted Dennis in 1986, they went on to win their first of consecutive championships starting in his third year. When he joined the Bulls in 1995, it started their next three-peat championship run following two years of droughts.
Through all of this, it was Rodman who did all the unheralded dirty work. Something that was often overlooked as he was out-shined by his flashier, high scoring teammates.
Of course, one could argue that Rodman was completely inept on the offensive side of the ball. His highest scoring output came in his sophomore campaign with the Pistons where he averaged 11.6 points per game. This would be the only time his scoring average would crack the double digit barrier.
However, the Worm didn’t take many shots because he wasn’t looking to score. He left that burden for Michael Jordan and David Robinson.
Early in his career, Rodman was consistently near the top of the league in field goal percentage. That number may have plummeted as he got older, but he was an efficient scorer for the first half of his career.
His free throw shooting is another story.
Rodman’s troubles at the charity stripe are well documented. In fact, he’s one of the worst free throw shooters in the history of the game. Luckily, he rarely found himself at the line, averaging only two free-throw attempts per game over the course of his career.
His scoring totals could have potentially been much higher if he demanded the ball. This unselfish attitude on offense helped each squad he played for thrive. It is no mere coincidence that Jordan captured three consecutive scoring titles and two MVP awards with Rodman at his side.
The same goes for Robinson, who won his lone scoring title and MVP award playing with Rodman.
In the end, whatever bad press and headaches Dennis the Menace brought along with him was well worth the trouble. He outworked and out hustled every single player on the court on any given night and he had the heart of a winner with a ferocious tenacity to match.
It would be a travesty to leave Rodman out of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Let’s hope the voters get it right this time around.