Tip-Off Timer: Five Titles Should Put Rodman in Hall of Fame
It takes five years of retirement for a player to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Make it 10 for Dennis Rodman, who always did things differently. He did win five NBA titles.
If you think that Michael Jordan caused a commotion with an unconventional acceptance speech last month when he headlined the Class of 2009, just wait until Rodman shows up in 2010 wearing a dress and lipstick.
Think of the theater. Think of the much-deserved attention it will bring to the greatest names in basketball history. Think of the fun.
Eligible for the first time now – those who have served their five years away – are Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and Mark Jackson among others.
Malone, the second leading scorer in basketball history with 36,928 points, will join former Utah Jazz teammate John Stockton, who was inducted this year along with their coach, Jerry Sloan. Stockton and Malone formed one of the best tandems the game ever has seen.
Because Malone stayed in the game a year longer, trying unsuccessfully to chase a championship with the Lakers at age 41, he likely will enter the Hall a year behind his assist man.
Pippen, sidekick to Jordan through six NBA titles in Chicago, also is expected to follow his teammate by a year. Unlike Stockton and Malone, there was a clear distinction between the talents of another one of the league's finest dynamic duos.
Pippen, one of the most versatile players in basketball, may have benefited from Jordan's presence, but it also overshadowed his own greatness. He was an eight-time All-Defensive first-team selection, playing Robin to Jordan's Batman in Chicago.
Jackson didn't get the attention of Malone or Pippen, but he also left his mark on the game. He played for seven teams during a 17-year career, recording 10,334 assists, second most in NBA history behind Stockton.
After Jackson, though, the potential candidates in their first year of eligibility are thin. There is Charles Oakley, who played 14 years and collected more than 12,000 rebounds; Horace Grant, who won four NBA titles; and Avery Johnson, the point guard who won a title in San Antonio.
Which brings us back to Rodman, whose absence is as glaring as anyone not in the Hall of Fame today. Easily the best non-center rebounder in history, he won seven consecutive rebounding titles, most by wide margins.
He also was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year twice. Added to his five NBA titles, and – based on his basketball accomplishments -- it's almost impossible to deny him the honor.
Maybe it's time to look past his often zany, sometimes bizarre behavior, and focus on the way he played the game – with a passion that produced championships.