Tuesday, 9 August 2011
IN ROD WE TRUST
Through a wormhole to the hall.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
(Part of our special 'HALL OF FAME' week)
If you ever make it to Springfield and walk down the infamous hall of NBA fame your senses will become overloaded as you hear a young man full of charisma tell you, "never fear, E.J.'s here", taste the victory champagne of champions, smell the scent of Red's cigar and feel the 'Heat' of things to come. Then however as you hear the footsteps of smart shoes and pan up the debonair but dynamic suit you see something unusual. Is that man's hair green with dots of orange?
It sure is ladies and gentleman as this year we welcome Dennis Rodman to the NBA Hall of Fame's class of 2012 and to boot this chameleon coloured, dyed eccentric may not sport the strangest haircut of the class either...step forward Chris Mullin! No wait, he's next (stay tuned) right now let's take a look at one of the most enigmatic, entertaining and best players to ever grace the National Basketball Association, a man that made Shaq's personality and Allen Iverson's appearance seem merely, normal.
Dennis Rodman is no stranger to causing a scene on the mainstream, catching headlines, superstar girlfriends, movie roles and everything short of a rap album all whilst grabbing every rebound in site. The man could even reduce Charles Barkley's mound to dirt and again even make that personality just seem ordinary. Throughout his career almost everything Dennis did was in some way classic. From humbled, no tattoo beginnings in Detroit before he was a 'bad boy', to striking gold in San Antonio before the championship years in Chicago where next to Scottie Pippen and the greatest of all time he still stood out (in a good way) like the (then named) Sears Tower (what you talking about Willis?), all the way to trying to choose between the number '69' (if you want that jersey you may have to ask Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder) or '007' in the Laker days before they refused him a new jersey like his hometown of Trenton (you can bet they love him though) and he left the association as a true Maverick. Trust that even with all the strange occurrences and 'what the hell' goings on Rod's playing career spoke louder than any outfit, make up or spray can he wore.
Forget talking about the tattoo's and earrings, speak on how he inked and pierced his legend and legacy of being the greatest rebounder in league history. The shyest kid in school graduated to the big-leagues and became one of the most extroverted men in the world as he truly lived this life. Thank God for what he gave us and even with all this charisma 'the worm' is still as humble and down to earth as thy come. Thanking all his teams on Twitter for the opportunity, now that's a hell of a lot of character.
Sure Rodman may have starred in the questionable, but box office smash 'Double Impact' (say what you say it sure is a fun movie) with Jean Claude Van Damme but his impact on the league was much more powerful and potent. His double, double, explosive play drew the top crowds in as Chicago, championship basketball became cinematic. With no special effects or stunt doubles, Dennis was the real action hero saving the day for the Bulls, scene after scene, team after team. He may have spent some time in a WWF ring with Hulk Hogan, but when he entered any NBA court he wrestled with anyone, no matter how tough as he even took the NBA's strongest man, Karl Malone from the canvas to the hardwood.
Sure he may have dated Madonna and claimed she "broke his (close your ears)" but this man still broke down his opposition night after night with his skills that changed the tone of the game more than his hair. Sure he may have been married to Carmen Elektra for only as long as most reality shows last and he may have wore a wedding dress to promote his autobiography (how else? Well how about promoting his second 'I Should Be Dead By Now' in a coffin?) but he enjoyed a matrimony with Larry O'Brien in the chapters of his career, never being engaged with his outside world when in the game like EA. Playing as consistently as a video game Rodman left it all on the floor as he left all the crazy things that happened in his life away from basketball exactly that, off the court. Now that's the measure of a true professional. So what if he came to work looking different. Normal people don't become winners, they just stay the same. Dennis changed the game. While wearing black and red the only thing he was a menace to was those without 'Bulls' embroided across their chests.
Now Michael Jordan may have led the Bull's charge with his second to none game and competitiveness, while Scottie Pippen may have been next in line as the leagues best second string and fiddle legend, but Rodman kept the heart of Chicago beating with his spark, enthusiasm and passion as this big three where united in the centre and the core of Windy City basketball. These characteristics, coupled with his completely horizontal loose ball dives and his glass polishing window cleaning where examples of true selfless sacrifice and the most truest types of hard-work and honest hustle. These elements where as criminally underrated and as equally important as Steve Kerr's threes, Horace Grant's googled eyed 'D' and Toni Kukoc's revolution of the sixth man position. All these moods resulted in a championship mindset. No wonder the zen of Phil Jackson recognised when no one else did. No wonder Dennis wants no one else but him to present him with his induction into the NBA's most elite and prestigious class.
It's easy to forget that the man that grabbed so many boards was only 6 foot 6 and also played the more natural position of small forward, but his emphatic, power driven play helped him stand next to the big boys on his way to five gold rings, two defensive player of the year awards and seven rebound titles. It's easy to forget this guy spent the last decade mixing it up in the ABA like his name was Julius Erving and spelling time in Britain like his name was Ron Artest (yet another man he makes look tame, now that's crazy), but this is how much this man loves the game that at times unfairly showed him hate. Sure he starred on England's popular but overdone 'Celebrity Big Brother' and America's 'Celebrity Apprentice', but the reality is what he's done on screens and youtube highlights with his basketball legacy trumps one-week, throwaway television. It's also easy to forget that despite his iconic, irreplaceable time for the Bulls he also had a massive impact on the eighties era, 'bad boy' Detroit basketball. A crucial cog in the otor of the Pistons just like Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, Adrian Dantleym, Vinnie Johnson or John Salley. An influence so huge that the team retired his number 10 jersey, maybe its time the Bulls followed suit with his number 91 vest.
Still with this years Hall of Fame honor the NBA finally honor all he's done, giving him his just deserves. It's about time we all really saw what this man is about. Surreal not strange, enigmatic not eccentric, iconic not idiotic. Besides in a current lockout starved and uninspired NBA, what more could entertain us then Dennis, one of the leagues most inspirational figures in a sport designed for expressive characters. Believe beyond the walls of the hall we'll never forget this man. In Rod we trust.