Dennis Rodman will enter the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, and there is no question that he belongs.
In the press conference introducing this year's enshrinement class, Rodman took the time to thank Motley Crue, Eddie Vedder and his agent. His hair had as many colors as Liz Taylor had husbands, and his game was as conventional as Eminem with a symphony orchestra.
But it worked.
Rodman is the greatest defensive forward in the history of the NBA.
He led the league in total rebounds four times. Only six players in the history of the NBA did that: Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Moses Malone, Dikembe Mutombo, Rodman, and Dwight Howard. Among these six, Rodman's career rebound-per-game average (13.1) is higher than Malone (7.1), Mutombo (10.3) and Howard (12.9).
Now consider that list with the heights of each player: Chamberlain (7-1), Russell (6-10), Malone (6-10), Mutombo (7-2), Rodman (6-7) and Howard (6-11).
Furthermore, Rodman finished in the top three in the league in rebounding on seven occasions. Only Chamberlain, Russell, Malone, Mutombo, Kevin Garnett and Bob Pettit had as many. Only four players led the NBA in rebounding during those 14 seasons: Charles Oakley, David Robinson, Mutombo and Rodman. Robinson and Mutombo were centers, and Oakley's prime was before Rodman had worked his way fully into Detroit's rotation.
In the history of the NBA, Rodman's rebounds-per-game average ranks tenth behind Chamberlain, Russell, Pettit, Jerry Lucas, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Walt Bellamy, Dave Cowens and Elgin Baylor. However, to appropriately consider those players' performances we must remember that only Cowens and Unseld played in the 1980s, and they combined to play just 103 games after the beginning of the 1980-81 season.
Times changed, and players got bigger.
Rodman was the greatest pest in the history of professional sports. He consistently gave the best offensive centers on opposing teams a hard time, despite giving up as much as six inches and 110 pounds when guarding a player like Shaquille O'Neal. O'Neal wasn't the only Hall of Famer that had issues when trying to score on Rodman. Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Rodman's one-time teammate Robinson all had trouble with him.
And none of them rebounded as well as Rodman did, even in their prime.
Rodman's 14 years in the NBA were dominated by big men, yet while he was certainly not physically one of them, his effort and basketball IQ was second to none. What he lacked in size he more than made up for in positioning and hard work.
While many might not like his wedding dress, or brief marriage to Carmen Electra, or piercings, or ridiculous parties, there is no denying his impact on the game. Rodman was the size of many shooting guards, and dominated centers and power forwards. He was the greatest defensive forward in the history of the NBA, and the number bear witness to his dominance.