When the Hall of Fame announces their 2011 class on Sunday, Dennis Rodman's name should be among those called. Cast aside his flamboyant personality and extravagant lifestyle, there's more than enough evidence that Rodman was a HOF-caliber talent on the court.
1. At only 6-7, Rodman led the NBA in rebounding for a record 7 consecutive years, averaging highs of 18.7 and 18.3 in 1991 and 1992. His 13.1 career average ranks 10th in NBA history and is the highest since 1973. He ranks 4th all time in offensive rebounds (4,329) and his career of 34 rebounds is the 3rd highest since 1973. Simply put, Rodman is the greatest rebounding forward ever.
2. He was the most versatile NBA defender in his prime. The Worm was a 7-time All-Defensive 1st Teamer (8 selections total) and 2-time Defensive Player of the Year that could guard all 5 positions like a shadow. Despite being an undersized power forward, he challenged the bigs of the NBA and made them work for every basket and rebound. Ask Shawn Kemp and Karl Malone in the 96-98 NBA Finals.
3. He's a winner. It's no surprise that when the NBA named their 10 greatest teams in 1996, two of Rodman's teams (89-90 Pistons, 95-96 Bulls) made the list. The 5-time NBA champion played a vital role on each of those teams and prior to Tim Duncan's arrival, he helped key the San Antonio Spurs best playoff run in 1995 to the Western Conference Finals.
4. He controlled the game without scoring. Despite only averaging 7.3 points in his career, Rodman made his mark with a combination of exceptional rebounding (based on his studying of how balls caromed off the rim), hustle, intense defense and mind games to frustrate his opponents. He twice made the All-NBA Third Team despite not averaging double figures in scoring those years. No less authority than Lakers coach Phil Jackson called him the smartest player he's ever coached.
5. He was the ultimate teammate. He sacrificed his offense to contribute in other ways and more often than not, those around him reaped the benefits. It's no surprise David Robinson won his only MVP in 1995 with Rodman by his side and when Michael Jordan needed extra support for his first full season after his comeback, he asked his old Pistons rival to suit up. It's hard to find a teammate who has a bad thing to say about him on the court
It'd be a crime if Dennis Rodman's personal life and off-the-court antics overshadowed the Hall of Fame resume of one of the greatest defenders/rebounders of the last 40 years. Hopefully the voters will do the right thing and give NBA fans the chance to appreciate a legend as well as enjoy what's sure to be one of the best induction speeches ever.