A story of two three-peats, the sweetest era of Chicago Bulls basketball. The greatest player of all time teamed with the greatest sidekick to lead the Bulls to six championships in eight years.
They of course had help, sixth men and big bodies in the middle that knew their roles and flourished in them. Among the chief role player-positions for both three-peats was the power forward position.
Which four was better, Horace Grant or Dennis Rodman? Both had the primary responsibility of rebounding and defending, and both obviously succeeded as they were integral parts in the three titles apiece.
Deciding who was better is really a matter of preference. The popular opinion is likely to be Rodman, for that reason exactly, popularity. Rodman's presence made the second Bulls' team rock stars.
He grabbed the attention of the casual fan. This, coupled with Michael Jordan's GOAT-ness, created an appeal that bests the polarizing effect of Miami's "Big Three."
Horace was nowhere near as charismatic but he was every bit as effective. He was quiet, and during the Bulls first three championships, they just won, they didn't entertain, at least not the way they did in the latter three.
Their styles were obviously different. Grant spent most of his career without hair, let alone a multi-colored 'do. Even their playing styles were different. Rodman was the epitome of a garbage man. I, of course, mean that with the utmost respect to the term.
He was there to rebound, defend, pass and agitate. He did all of those things as well as any player who has ever played the game.
Grant was a very good rebounder, especially on the offensive boards, but he was no match for the Worm on the glass. Rodman is probably one of the five greatest rebounders in history if you consider the different eras.
As a defender, Rodman could check three positions on a given night. But, so could Grant. Horace was a very underrated defender. He also brought an element to the game that Rodman did not: shot blocking.
He consistently blocked over a shot per game, while that was never a part of Rodman's vast defensive repertoire. As great as Rodman was, I don't think he bests Grant in this category as much as many may he think he does.
Offensively, it isn't even close. Grant had a very dependable 15-foot jump shot, while Rodman was relegated to tip-ins for his scoring opportunities.
Rodman never averaged over 5.5 points per game and Grant was never under 12.8 during their Bulls championship seasons. Most importantly is this category, Grant was a better free-throw shooter. He made about 70 percent of his attempts while Rodman converted about 55 percent.
Which Power Forward Would You Take On the 1996 Bulls?
Grant was the more versatile, but Rodman was the more dynamic in his areas of concentration. Grant did just about everything well, while Rodman did two things, but was spectacular at both.
When you look at the overall statistical effect of both players, a stat that really encompasses a player's overall effect on his team's success is Win-Shares.
In short, this statistic calculates the offensive and defensive effectiveness of a player, thus determining their contribution to their team's win-total. (Check out the link, it has been insanely accurate over the years.)
In this category, Grant really dwarfs Rodman and this speaks to his effectiveness as a two-way player. In the three title teams Grant was on, his win-share is 10.3, 14.1 and 9.1.
In Rodman's three title years, his win-share is 6.2, 6.0 and 7.8. Obviously, numbers don't ever tell the whole story, but that is a huge discrepancy.
I'd take Grant over Rodman. He is the most underrated Bull of either of the two three-peats. Many fans don't respect his contributions and like Bulls management, they devalued him. In contrast, fans over-valued Dennis Rodman as a Bull.
Note I said, as a Bull. Rodman is a Hall of Famer, though he has the second lowest scoring average of any player inducted. He is there for his body of work as a rebounder and defender for his career. He was only a Bull for three years and though the years rendered championships, it was still only three years.
Grant played seven seasons as a Bull. He was apart of the rise and the first culmination. I contend that if you put Horace Grant on the 1996 Bulls team that had Ron Harper wreaking havoc defensively on smaller point guards, Michael being Michael, Scottie Pippen coming into his own and Toni Kukoc winning the Sixth Man of the Year award, the Bulls would win 72 games or more.
This is not meant to take props away from the Worm, but it's time people properly saluted the General.