Scottie Pippen believes former Bulls teammate Dennis Rodman belongs in basketball's Hall of Fame
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By Scottie Pippen | 12.14.2010 | @scottiepippen
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My former teammate, Dennis Rodman, is a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011. And I truly believe that he deserves to be in.
Dennis is one of the greatest defensive players that the game has ever seen. He was a very multidimensional player in terms of his defending and he was a ferocious rebounder. Dennis was also a very intelligent player with a high basketball IQ.
Statistically, so many of the things Dennis did wouldn’t show up in the box scores or record books. He understood the game and he did what it took to win. When you look at what he accomplished as a pro, the first thing that you see is he’s a five-time NBA champion—twice with Detroit and three times in Chicago. He brought a lot to the table on each of those teams as a major contributor.
During our second three-peat, Dennis played a huge role for the Bulls in terms of his ability to defend centers and power forwards. His rebounding, his knowledge, his court savvy and his ability to get into other player’s heads—not all of those things show up on the stat sheet, but we always knew what Dennis meant to our team. He did so many things that made an impact on our success. And it wasn’t just during his time with the Bulls; it was throughout his entire career.
Dennis was an extremely tough competitor for us in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Pistons were at the level we were aspiring to reach—NBA champions. We eventually got past Detroit, which was an extremely bitter rivalry for us.
"Statistically, so many of the things Dennis did wouldn’t show up in the box scores or record books," writes Pippen. "He understood the game and he did what it took to win."
(Andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty Images)
People wondered how Michael Jordan and I would receive Dennis when he came to the Bulls in 1995. We were well aware of Dennis’ history, but we were not going to let it distract or deter us from what we were trying to do as a team. We were open to him joining us and we felt that if he was a distraction in any way, we had to have the flexibility to move on as a team and not look back. Most importantly, we believed he could come in and help us if he did what he was capable of doing on the basketball court. Obviously, that is what happened when you look at the fact he averaged 15 or 16 rebounds a game during his three seasons in Chicago. It certainly ended up working out well for us all.
Dennis was the top rebounder in the game for a long time. That’s not a given for anyone in the NBA. It’s not easy to go out there and lead the league in rebounding year in and year out. But that’s exactly what Dennis did, having won seven rebounding titles in his NBA career. And let’s not forget, Dennis wasn’t much taller than 6-6 or so. He was one of those guys that played so much bigger than his size allowed. Most of the power forwards he played against were not only taller, but much stronger. Utah’s Karl Malone comes to mind. Yet Dennis was always one of the top defenders—twice named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1990 and 1991) and a seven-time member of the All-Defensive First Team. He would utilize his quickness to his advantage in terms of getting position or creating fast break opportunities. Those were his strengths as a player and he mastered them. He deserves credit for that—it’s who Dennis was and he never tried to change it.
I always had a great personal relationship with Dennis and we still do to this day. It’s always enjoyable to see him and catch up. It’s also always fun to see him because he’s never alone. But we enjoyed a lot of great memories together. What people don’t realize about Dennis is that he’s just a nice guy. He is very giving, fun and lives life to its fullest. He’s a different guy, but he’s got a great heart.
It was no secret Dennis had his issues away from the game and the media loved to write about his antics. But I don’t believe any of those things should be taken into consideration when discussing whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame. It wasn’t about what he did off the court—it should be about the way he played basketball and won. Why should something he did outside of basketball deter in any way his Hall of Fame chances? There are a lot of imperfect athletes in professional sports and what Dennis did away from the game was his own personal life. Shouldn’t he be judged more for what he did as a basketball player?
At the end of the day, I think people will respect what Dennis has accomplished enough to make him a Hall of Famer in 2011. I don’t believe being a Hall of Famer is based on individual accolades. I think winning has a lot to do with it. But perhaps more than that, you simply have to show that you are the best or among the best at what you do. If you can prove that you’re in that elite class on a consistent basis, it speaks volumes about a player’s longevity. It also says that as a player, you were steady, stable and great, and that you deserve to be recognized. Dennis was all of those things. That’s why, based on his career and what he did on the court, Dennis Rodman belongs in the Hall of Fame.