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Bulls chairman Reinsdorf discusses Rodman, Winter and Gilmore heading to basketball’s Hall of Fame

Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf shares his thoughts on Dennis Rodman, Tex Winter and Artis Gilmore being named as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011
Dennis Rodman will join former Bulls teammates Michael Jordan (Class of 2009) and Scottie Pippen (Class of 2011) in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on August 12. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

Dennis Rodman will join former Bulls teammates Michael Jordan (Class of 2009) and Scottie Pippen (Class of 2011) in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on August 12, 2011. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

>> Gilmore, Winter and Rodman named as part of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2011
>> Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announces Class of 2011

By Adam Fluck | 04.04.2011

Three former Chicago Bulls—Dennis Rodman, Tex Winter and Artis Gilmore—were among 10 individuals named Monday as the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011 to be honored August 11-13 during enshrinement ceremonies.

Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf noted that induction for Rodman is justified by what he did on the court, while Winter’s enshrinement is long overdue. And while six of Gilmore’s seven seasons with the Bulls came before Reinsdorf took over as the team’s majority owner, he also applauded his accomplishments and added that he should have gotten the Hall call sooner.

“It’s a great day for Bulls fans, and our organization, when two former players and a former assistant coach are inducted into such a prestigious shrine that is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” said Reinsdorf. “All three of these guys have made tremendous contributions to the game of basketball, and I know that they are all proud of this recognition.”

It was no given that Dennis Rodman would make the Hall of Fame due to his well-documented off-the-court behavior during his career, but Reinsdorf believes Rodman was a worthy candidate when taking into consideration what he did while he was playing.

Rodman
“All you have to do is look at his statistics,” Reinsdorf said of Rodman. “He’s one of the greatest rebounders of all-time and he was on five championship teams. Granted, he had a different type of personality, but on the court, he was nothing but a winner.”
(Andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty Images)

“All you have to do is look at his statistics,” Reinsdorf said of Rodman. “He’s one of the greatest rebounders of all-time and he was on five championship teams. Granted, he had a different type of personality, but on the court, he was nothing but a winner.”

Reinsdorf said he was glad the committee discounted what Rodman did away from the game and didn’t allow it to be a deterrent when assessing his credentials.

“It was all showmanship anyway,” said Reinsdorf. “Even though he led the league in rebounding so many years, it was what made him unique as a person and the way he was such a colorful personality that helped make him so well known as a basketball player.

“It’s a little extreme to make the comparison, but what he did was not unlike what Muhammad Ali and Gorgeous George the wrester had done before him,” added Reinsdorf of Rodman’s persona. “The figure in which he created for himself was what made him larger than life and he did well because of it.”

Twice named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, Rodman came to the Bulls on October 2, 1995, when he was traded by the San Antonio Spurs for Will Perdue.

The Bulls had fallen to the Magic in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals after Michael Jordan’s late season return from baseball. That summer, Chicago needed to address its lack of rebounding with Horace Grant having departed for Orlando a year earlier.

“I remember Phil [Jackson] saying once that season was over that we needed someone to fetch the ball,” Reinsdorf recalled. “We looked around and we identified Dennis as the best rebounder who we felt might be available.”

However, given Rodman’s character issues, the decision to add him to Chicago’s roster was considered a risk. And it would not have happened at all without the approval of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

“We were concerned about how Michael and Scottie would react and we weren’t going to go out and get Dennis unless they were willing to play with him,” said Reinsdorf. “They both were, so it was a relatively easy move to make. If either of them had been opposed to it, we wouldn’t have done it.”

As for Tex Winter, his arrival in Chicago came ten years earlier than Rodman’s, when on July 8, 1985, Jerry Krause brought him aboard as an assistant coach.

Reinsdorf described Winter’s induction to basketball’s Hall of Fame as long overdue, and added that he wished it happened much sooner.

Winter
“To be honest, I had never even heard of the triangle before we brought in Tex,” said Reinsdorf of Winter. “But it sure was a joy to watch Tex teach it and talk about it. It took awhile for the players to get the hang of the triangle. They struggled with it in the beginning. But once they had it mastered, it was a thing of beauty."
(Andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty Images)

“I have no idea why it took so long, but I couldn’t be happier that Tex has finally made it,” said Reinsdorf. “It’s a shame that it came when he really can’t enjoy it because of his heath. Tex was always a very charming guy to be around and always made himself available to talk.”

Winter, 89, suffered a stroke two years ago which may make him unable to attend the enshrinement ceremony. But without question, his remarkable coaching career that began in 1947 as an assistant with Kansas State University and continued at the collegiate and NBA levels until 2006 will be remembered by many.

When Reinsdorf hired Krause on March 26, 1985 to take over for Rod Thorn as general manager, Krause had indicated he intended to recruit Winter as one of his first items of business.

“Jerry was true to his word, as he went after Tex right away,” said Reinsdorf, who along with Joakim Noah and former Bulls coach Tim Floyd share the same birthday with Winter (Feb. 25).

Though not until several years later, once Phil Jackson replaced Doug Collins as head coach, Reinsdorf would learn where Winter would make his biggest impact while coaching on the NBA level—the implementation of the now well-known triangle offense which helped propel the Bulls to six championships.

“To be honest, I had never even heard of the triangle before we brought in Tex,” said Reinsdorf. “But it sure was a joy to watch Tex teach it and talk about it. It took awhile for the players to get the hang of the triangle. They struggled with it in the beginning. But once they had it mastered, it was a thing of beauty.

“It takes organizations to win championships and Tex was responsible for an important element of the success we enjoyed in the 1990s,” added Reinsdorf. “We had to have great players, but we also had to have outstanding coaches and Tex was outstanding.”

Just as Winter waited far too long for his Hall of Fame moment, so did former Bulls center Artis Gilmore, said Reinsdorf.

Winter
“As a youngster growing up in Chipley, Florida, I admired with awe basketball legends like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson. I never imagined that one day I might share a stage with them as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Gilmore said in a statement.
(Jim Cummins/NBAE/Getty Images)

By the time Reinsdorf took over as majority owner of the Bulls on March 13, 1985, Gilmore had already played six seasons for the Bulls (1976-1982), earning recognition as an NBA All-Star twice (1978-79, 1981-82) and being named to the NBA All-Defensive second team in 1978.

“I watched Artis as a fan, and he was a great player,” said Reinsdorf of Gilmore, who also played for Chicago during the 1987-88 campaign. “He’s another example of someone who, in my mind, should have gotten into the Hall of Fame much earlier. There is no question had some very successful seasons with the Bulls.”

Known as the “A-Train,” Gilmore was not listed among the candidates listed as finalists for enshrinement by the Hall of Fame in February. But as Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board, explained on Monday, the selection process has changed with the hopes it becomes more clean and thorough with an attempt to be more transparent with additional fan participation.

In Gilmore’s case, he was chosen as a directly elected enshrinee from a newly formed committee representing the American Basketball Association (ABA). A committee focusing on the Early African-American Pioneers of the Game was also created. As the Hall of Fame explained, this change in the selection process will ensure the necessary steps are taken to preserve the history of the game and protect a critical era of basketball.

“The addition of the ABA and Early African-American Pioneers of the Game committees make sure we bring historical context to the modern game and meet our mission of recognizing the entire game,” said Colangelo. “This generation built a foundation for the sport and the Hall of Fame is dedicated to making sure that they do not go unrecognized.”

Gilmore, a member of the ABA 30-Man All-Time Team, won one ABA championship and was named the ABA league and playoff Most Valuable Player. For his playing career, he would score more than 24,000 points and averaged a double/double in both professional leagues.

“As a youngster growing up in Chipley, Florida, I admired with awe basketball legends like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson. I never imagined that one day I might share a stage with them as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Gilmore said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire Gilmore family, I want to thank everyone who made this honor possible. I hope to represent you all proudly.”

The Class of 2011 will be enshrined during a week of events culminating on Friday, August 12 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Other inductees include former NBA star and 1992 Dream Team member Chris Mullin; four-time NCAA women’s coach of the year Tara VanDerveer; four-time Olympic gold medalist Teresa Edwards; European star Arvydas Sabonis; all-time NCAA wins leader Herb Magee; eight-time NBA champion Tom “Satch” Sanders; and former Harlem Globetrotter Reece “Goose” Tatum, who will be honored posthumously.

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