Posted Apr 1 2011 10:48AM
It's going to be loud. It's going to be loud and celebratory and potentially emotional and maybe a little garish and definitely a lot unpredictable. Because, c'mon, this is Dennis Rodman we're talking about.
You were expecting maybe traditional? Rodman was not exactly typical, so reaching a special level of history should not be, either, as the Pistons retire his uniform No. 10 on Friday night during halftime of the Detroit-Chicago game at the Palace of Auburn Hills, a moment to celebrate Rodman and the entire Bad Boy era of mayhem and success.
"I'm sure Dennis will be happy and probably emotional," predicts Joe Dumars, Rodman's former Pistons teammate and currently president of basketball operations there.
It's the perfect setting, of course -- the Palace, one former Rodman title team facing another former Rodman title team, in the city where he became something after not playing high school basketball, going to a junior college and Southeastern Oklahoma State and lasting until the second round of the 1986 Draft. Maybe, for good measure, Rodman, Dumars and whatever other Bad Boys are in attendance will walk out early if the Bulls are leading.
Friday, Rodman will step into the adulation of the Palace, but on Monday he will be standing trial for the years of Wormness that turned him into a polarizing figure within the game. That's when, in Houston for the Final Four, the announcement of the Hall of Fame inductees will be made. Rodman is one of 10 finalists from the North American committee -- along with Al Attles, Maurice Cheeks, Division II coach Herb Magee, Dick Motta, Chris Mullin, college referee Hank Nichols, Ralph Sampson, Jamaal Wilkes and Tex Winter -- and his candidacy easily will be one of the most-watched outcomes.
Rodman's continued popularity among fans makes his bid for the Hall of Fame a continued source of conversation. His success on the court makes it an unavoidable topic. That will become even more so if he falls short of the necessary votes for induction. He needs 18 of the 24 anonymous voters from the professional and college ranks and the media to check his name to be elected.
Last year, Rodman didn't even make it to the finalist stage, an amazing consideration for someone who had an important role on five championship teams, was voted first- or second-team All-Defense by coaches for eight consecutive seasons, twice was selected the Defensive Player of the Year by the media and set a record by leading the league in rebounding seven seasons in a row. The only possible explanation was that enough voters were turned off by the number of times he also led the league in antics.
Moving an important step closer puts him on the verge of enshrinement, though, and shows that there has either been a major change of heart among the super-secret panelists or that people respected Rodman all along, even if they didn't necessarily like him, and simply did not want him as a candidate in the first year of eligibility. That was one suggestion made when Reggie Miller was left off the list of finalists in February.
Whether that means anything to Rodman, basketball's ultimate non-conformist, is uncertain. He declined an interview request for this story and has rarely talked publicly about his career, or most anything unless it involves a promotion. There was a statement, issued through his manager when the jersey retirement was first announced: "Individual accomplishments have never been a big deal for me as a player, but to be honored for my contributions in this way by the Detroit Pistons organization is truly humbling. This organization gave me a chance to blossom regardless of my size or what school I came from. My only regret is that the man that believed in me more than I did myself, Chuck Daly, is no longer with us. I'm sure he'll be with us that evening in his own way."
This is legacy time. And Rodman seems to care about his place in history.
"I think his legacy is important to him, and I'm sure all of this means a lot to him," Dumars said.
"I don't know," countered one of the strongest Rodman supporters, Brendan Malone, the former Pistons assistant coach now in the same role with the Magic. "You never know with Dennis. But he did love the game of basketball, he loved rebounding, he loved defense, he loved winning."
The next few days for Rodman becomes about where he is going and the possibility of reaching a special level of history. More than that, though, it's about his legacy, however controversial, however non-traditional it might be.
This is, after all, Dennis Rodman we're talking about.
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