Phil Jackson: Dennis Rodman Is a Hall of Famer ‘Without a Doubt’

Last year’s class of players inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame was amongst the best ever — Michael Jordan, David Robinson, and John Stockton. This year’s class features likely inductees Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen. It could also include one of the strangest players to grace an NBA court — Dennis Rodman. Rodman used to say he didn’t care about the Hall but as recently as two years ago he admitted it would “be something special” to be inducted. Former teammates Isiah Thomas and Scottie Pippen supported his candidacy, as did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And on ESPN’s Sunday Conversation, Rodman’s former Bulls coach Phil Jackson joined the chorus. Magic Johnson asked the question and here was Phil’s response:

“Without a doubt, doubt, doubt, doubt. People don’t understand that what he did and he was a rebounding phenomenon and incredible defensive [player]. And a smart player. Incredible, incredible. People don’t consider that, they don’t understand what makes Hall of Fame players.”

When you examine Rodman’s on-court resume, it’s pretty impressive. Consider the following: Rodman won five championships, was a two-time All-Star, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and 7-time rebounding champion. The dude averaged over 13 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for him, he’ll always be remembered first for what he did off the court and that’s something he brought on himself, but if you base things purely on what a player did on the court, Rodman probably deserves to be in. Defense and rebounding isn’t glamorous but they’re key elements to winning.

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  • tucker

    No question HOFer. Best rebounder of his generation. Incredible defensive player. Sneaky quick and knew how to get to your spot before you did. Only man he couldn’t guard was Malone. Malone just looked at him like he crazy. He destroyed Chris Weber and Alonzo Mourning in the playoffs. Caused Pipen all sorts of problems. Ask Bird an McHale if he is a HOFer.

  • SpinMax

    No doubter.

  • Kevin/Indianapolis

    As a native Detroiter and a life-long fan of the Pistons, I can honestly say that Rodman was a beauty to watch. Once his mind went haywire, however, he played far fewer games and became more of a carnival act than an everyday force in the NBA. He’s a borderline case for me…I loved his rebounding and defense but the rest left me cold. Had he focused on his job and his team, his induction would already have happened. I never saw another player to compare him with, that’s for sure.

  • tucker

    Uh Kevin,

    Integral part of 5 championship teams, not focusing on his job? I’ll bet a lot of coaches would take that lack of focus. Phil was smart enough to let Dennis do his thing (superstars get superstar rules) and understood how to coach him. Plus he had MJ to keep him in line on the court. That’s why it never worked out in San Antonio. He looked up and down the bench and said what have you ever won and you’re telling me how to play?

    Yes, his career after the MJ Bulls were disbanded wasn’t much to be proud of. Still a no doubter.