You know the name. It's him. That crazy guy with the wild hair that dressed up like a girl. He played with Jordan right?
When you hear his name these are the things that immediately pop into the casual NBA fan's mind. But do you know how great this man was? Do you remember what an excellent rebounder he was, or how tenacious and unrelenting he was on the defensive end?
His career highlights are overshadowed by the controversy he stirred up on and off the court, but I'm here to tell you that Dennis Rodman is without a doubt the MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER in the history of the NBA.
- 5x NBA Champion
- 2x NBA Defensive Player of The Year
- 7x NBA All-Defensive First Team
- 7x Rebounding Champion
No, those aren't accolades out of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's book although they appear worthy of the man's name. They are Dennis Rodman's. He was also a two-time NBA All-Star, two-time ALL-NBA Third Team and even led the league in Field Goal percentage in the 88-89 season.
- He won two championships with the Detroit "Bad Boys" Pistons Teams...(Yes the same teams that denied "His Airness" over and over again in the 1980's), and joined up with MJ later on for the Bulls second three-peat.
Defensive Player Of The Year Awards
- In 89-90 Rodman was lauded by the NBA "for his defense and rebounding skills, which were unparalleled in the league" For his feats, he won the NBA DPOY Award for the 89-90 season. He also connected on .595 percentage of his shots, which made him the most precise shooter of the league for that year.
- In 90-91 He played such strong defense that the NBA stated he "could shut down any opposing player, from point guard to center." In the beginning of his career he came off the bench but that year he finally started in 77 of the 82 regular season games, averaged 8.2 points and 12.5 rebounds and won his second Defensive Player of the Year Award.
- During his time in the NBA, Dennis Rodman would go on to win seven rebounding titles--consecutively. During his seven-year reign as the rebound king, he would in his worst year average 14.9 rebounds per game. His best year during that span would gross him -an unheard of in the modern era of basketball- 18.7 rebounds per game.
To put that into perspective, Dwight "Superman" Howard recently won the NBA 08-09 Rebounding Title with an average of 13.8 rebounds per game. Dwight Howard is 6 foot 11 inches and one of the most dominant, athletic and physically gifted players in the league today, if not ever.
Rodman was 6 foot 7 inches --one inch taller than Kobe Bryant or one inch shorter than Tracy McGrady.
Wilt Chamberlain is the only player in history with more rebounding titles.
What may be even more impressive than the feat itself is the era in which he accomplished it in. The 90's were known as "The Era Of The Big Men". He didn't win these titles against nobodies. He beat out Hall of Fame players like Karl Malone, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, and Charles Barkley.
Other Facts and Opinions
Dennis Rodman is credited with gifting David Robinson his only scoring title.
With Michael Jordan having won the scoring title for the previous seven years in a row but at the time in his first retirement, the 93-94 season was not going to have the previous years champion in the race. Dennis Rodman had been just been traded to the San Antonio Spurs. Upon his arrival he basically told Robinson not to worry about rebounding, just to concentrate on scoring. And score he did. Robinson would go on to average 10.7 rpg but a whopping 29.8 ppg while Rodman would shoulder the remaining rebounding load for both of them, averaging an unbelieveable 17.3 rpg.
Dennis Rodman also was the key to the Chicago Bulls' historic 72-10 season.
With Michael Jordan back from retirement for his first full season he would rejoin forces with Scottie Pippen and a newcomer to the team -Dennis Rodman- and embark on a legendary record breaking season posting a still unsurpassed regular season 72-10 Win-Loss Record. Rodman's arrival would give the Chicago Bulls the best rebounder in the NBA and in addition to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen a third ALL-NBA defender. His addition to the team is what transformed them from great to virtually unbeatable.
Whenever the name Dennis Rodman is mentioned, I know it will be tempting to bring up the controversy, the hairstyles, the piercings, etc.,
But from now on I challenge you not only to remember the negative, but also the hustle, determination, grittiness, defense, and willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of his team.
He is the embodiment of a team player. He doesn't demand the ball. He knows his role and performs it to absolute historic perfection.
The next time you think about Rodman and all that was unorthodox, reminisce also on the things that made him the best role player of all-time.
Remember the things that made him great.