Frequent readers know that on occasion, I tend to get a little worked up if I feel someone has unfairly challenged something I write. I’ve had more impassioned arguments in comments sections on stuff I’ve written here and at MLive over the last couple years than I’d care to admit. But one incident I don’t regret at all: taking exception to a former co-worker, Flint Journal columnist Andrew Heller, writing that I was crazy to think Dennis Rodman was a Hall of Famer.
Last year was Rodman’s first year of hall eligibility. Before it was announced that he didn’t make the final ballot, I wrote a short post expressing my belief that Rodman was undoubtedly Hall-worthy.
A couple days later, a friend pointed me to this section of Heller’s column:
Patrick Hayes, my sports department buddy, asked his readers the other day whether Dennis Rodman is a Hall of Famer. His answer: “No career is more Hall of Fame-worthy than Dennis Rodman’s.” My answer:
Patrick, Patrick, Patrick. So young, so in need of my wise, mature counsel.
Dennis Rodman was a one-dimensional player. He rebounded. That’s it. Putting him in the basketball Hall of Fame would be like putting long ago Tigers shortstop Eddie Brinkman in the baseball Hall of Fame. Eddie was a great fielder, but couldn’t hit the ocean with spit. Case closed.
Now, Heller, as you can tell by that passage, is a casual sports watcher. He’s the typical basketball fan who overvalues scoring without any real appreciation for both the skill-level and impact on the game that rebounding and defense have. You can’t explain to a casual sports fan that Rodman, or Ben Wallace or Dwight Howard or Rajon Rondo, for that matter, are able to absolutely control games even if they don’t score a point. I tried, in as smarmy a way as possible, to make that point in a long-winded rebuttal to Heller last year.
But I can respond much easier right now: Dennis Rodman is a Hall of Famer.
Dan and I have written plenty about Rodman over the past few weeks leading up to his jersey retirement, so I won’t rehash how obviously happy I am that the Pistons’ Bad Boys will now have a fifth Hall of Famer (Bill Davidson, Chuck Daly, Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars). And honestly, they should have a sixth: there is a very strong case for Bill Laimbeer that unfortunately Hall voters never took that seriously.
Rodman’s inclusion is sure to stir debate. Heller is far from the only columnist out there who looks at scoring or things like All-Star appearances as a judge. Bob Young of the Arizona Republic recently did just that, expressing his belief that Rodman is not worthy:
There’s no question Rodman had an impact on the game. But he was a specialist, and without Thomas and Michael Jordan, how many of those rings does he win?
That’s the wrong question, my friend. The question should be, minus Rodman, how many rings do Isiah and MJ win?