On October 26, 1996, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the 50 greatest players in league history at a press luncheon, and Michael Jordan believes Dennis Rodman was omitted from the prestigious list.
During an interview with SLAM Magazine in 1997, Jordan said Rodman should have been on the list, and his comments surprised the two writers speaking to him.
Michael Jordan: Dennis Rodman should have been selected
Jordan told Tony Gervino and Russ Bengtson of SLAM Magazine that Rodman should have been selected as one of the top 50 players in NBA history. Both Gervino and Bengston disagreed with His Airness.
“Dennis [Rodman]? Jordan said.
SLAM: “No way.”
Jordan: “Come on, now. The best rebounder — one of the best rebounders in the game.”
SLAM: “So? Dennis Rodman’s not in the Top 50.”
Jordan: [To others in the room] “That’s his opinion.”
Rodman and Jordan had an intense rivalry when the former was on the Detroit Pistons. However, the two Hall of Famers became teammates on the Bulls in 1995 and formed a lethal Big 3 with Scottie Pippen, giving Jordan a greater appreciation for the Worm.
Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman won three rings in a row
Jordan was spot-on when he said Rodman is one of the best rebounders in NBA history. The five-time champion is 23rd all-time in total rebounds and 12th all-time in rebounds per game. He also won seven rebounding titles in a row with the Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, and Bulls from 1991-92 to 1997-98.
Even though Jordan acknowledged that Rodman’s work ethic and focus in practice weren’t always strong, the five-time regular-season MVP always knew the big man would be ready to play when it mattered most.
“It can go, it can flow [laughs]. It depends on the night before [laughs],” Jordan said on Rodman’s work ethic in practice. “But in the game, you know what you’re getting.”
Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman won three straight championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Demolition Man only played three seasons with the Bulls, but he’s the franchise leader in rebounds per game, offensive rebound percentage, defensive rebound percentage, and total rebound percentage.
During the 2021-22 season, Rodman has a second chance to join Jordan and Pippen on the greatest players list, as the NBA will commemorate its 75th anniversary by naming the 75 greatest players in league history.
Will Rodzilla make the list this time?
A panel of media, current and former players, coaches, general managers, and team executives will select the NBA’s 75 greatest players. It will be announced in October, and likely celebrated during the 2022 All-Star Game in Cleveland.
In 911 NBA games, Rodman averaged 7.3 points and 13.1 rebounds. Along with winning five championships, Dennis the Menace won two Defensive Player of the Year Awards and played in two All-Star games. In 2011, Rodman was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
It will be fascinating to see if Rodman makes the cut this time. If Jordan thought his pal should have made the list in 1996, the Bulls legend probably hasn’t changed his mind.