Dennis Rodman: Does Mercurial Forward Belong in the NBA Hall of Fame?
The National Basketball Association released their list of nominees for the Hall of Fame class of 2011 on Tuesday with Dennis Rodman being among the candidates. Other prominent players listed include: Reggie Miller, Bernard King, Chris Mullin, Don Nelson, and Mark Jackson.
While at least one of these names (Miller) is a shoo-in, it’s not so clear with the remainder of the players listed. Rodman, however is the most highly-rated player on the list according to basketball-reference because of his standout defensive play during his 14 year career.
Looking at his numbers, we see that Rodman led the NBA in rebounding for seven seasons, while also making the NBA All-Defensive first team seven times as well. He never scored much or shot particularly well late in his career, but you cannot dispute his play on the other side of the floor.
But is the value of such a one-sided defensive player evident enough to secure Rodman’s status as one of the greatest players of all-time? There are some factors for him and against him that will influence the committee’s decision:
Reason Against: Low-Scoring Career
Rodman’s career average of 7.3 PPG would rank him second to last out of the 90 people inducted into the Hall of Fame as players. Only Buddy Jeanette, who largely shined before the existence of the NBA would be below Rodman.
Since 1999 John Stockton has the lowest career scoring total (13.4), but as we all know, Stockton is the all-time assists and steals leader. Rodman is listed as number 22 all-time in rebounds, so he doesn’t have the clout that made Stockton such an obvious choice for the hall.
Reason For: Rebounding/Defense
Rodman is among the most decorated defensive players of all-time. In his prime he was almost guaranteed to make the All-Defensive team. It’s hard to think of him not pulling down 17-18 rebounds every night and limiting his matchup on the court to a subpar game.
Rodman played a key role in the NBA as it shifted from the showtime 1980’s towards a more conservative approach in the 1990’s. He opened people eyes to a defense-first mentality, not coming out of the Center spot and succeeded wholly in that role.
Reason Against: Character Flaws
Without going into specific incidents why Rodman should not be on the list, his jaded past will most likely be a consideration. Will he be faulted for his actions and stunts on and off the court?
It makes sense that there will be some who don’t believe he is worthy based off of these considerations. What it comes down to is just how large a role these will contribute to Rodman being bumped from the list of greatest NBA players. It’s not unreasonable to think they will play a role as players who may not have been terrific statistically have made the NBA based off of intangible factors (KC Jones, Bill Bradley).
Reason For: Championships
Rodman was a member of five championship teams during his career. It’s a number that seems to greatly benefit players who are on the border of getting into the hall or not.
KC Jones and Bill Bradley made it because of their championship prowess and intangibles. So will Rodman see an equivalent boost because of his ring count?
While this is more personal preference than selection process, I believe Dennis Rodman deserves his shot among the greatest players in NBA history.
While there are supporting factors against him, he was a unique player that was an attraction to fans and had them curiously engaged in a game whenever he was on the court. No player before or since Rodman has given the NBA such personality and it’s this intangible that should be looked upon with a certain level of respect when thinking about the players who have contributed the most to the game over the years.