Dennis Rodman: I'm in Hall of Fame
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Dennis Rodman said Friday night that he will be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Rodman says he was informed Thursday to be in Houston for Monday's announcement before the championship game of the NCAA tournament. He was among 12 finalists for the Hall of Fame this year along with players such as Jamaal Wilkes, Maurice Cheeks, Chris Mullin and Ralph Sampson. The induction ceremony is in August.
An emotional Rodman said he isn't sure he deserves the Pistons' tribute.
"Tonight, it's going to be a good night," he said Friday during a pregame news conference. "It's a surprise to me that my number is getting retired. It's surprising to me. ... I just feel like I didn't deserve to have my number retired because I didn't do as much as I should here."
Rodman got choked up shortly after speaking with reporters and was remorseful about not playing longer for the Pistons.
"If the circumstances were right, I should have been here at least more than what I [did]," he said. "I think the first couple years I was more of a child. I wasn't a mature individual, but I was just so excited to be in the NBA, and to be a part of a team that was more than just a team, it was a family. I saw these guys when they first came and they put their families second, which they shouldn't. But they put their families second because Isiah [Thomas] wanted it so much, Joe [Dumars] wanted it so much. Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson.
"They wanted it so much and we just sit there during the summertime, wintertime, they wanted to win so bad, man. And we just went out there and worked, worked, worked all the time, and we finally got it right and we won two championships."
Rodman is thankful to have garnered an honor that so few get to experience.
"I think I didn't fully understand the value I had for this organization and for my teammates here. I was just part of a 12-man band here. And I just love playing the basketball game and I just love the people that gave us so much energy. It wasn't about Dennis Rodman, or Isiah Thomas, or Joe Dumars. It was a whole group and it starts in the front office. They kept the team together. They made sure we stayed together for those five years from '86 to '91.
"There was a lot of times we could have just broke away. I know Chuck Daly had some negative feelings, but he loved the city so much and he loved the players so much and he kept asking us, 'Should we come back? Should we come back?' And I just said, 'Yes, let's do it again, let's do it again.' It was up-and-down but for the most part it was great. And I love the people here. The people here are die-hard fans. They're die-hard fans and they showed the love for everybody."
Rodman didn't spend much time talking about his tenure with the Bulls, but he did manage this dig at the San Antonio Spurs.
"They traded me to Chicago for Will Perdue," he said. "Straight up. They said it was the best trade they ever did, ever had. I'm like, 'Yep, sure was.' We won three championships after that, right? That first year in Chicago? 72-10. ... And we won championships there."
Rodman had two supporters on the opponent's bench Friday night in Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and center Joakim Noah.
"Dennis has always been like a hero of mine," Noah said before Friday morning's shootaround. "I'm just really excited for him. It's very well-deserved."
Thibodeau coached Rodman for two years in the mid-1990s as an assistant for the Spurs, and he hopes to get a chance to see his former pupil before the game. Like Noah, he had nothing but kind words for "The Worm," one of the NBA's best rebounders of all time.
"Real smart player," Thibodeau said. "A very unselfish player. Team player.
"And more of a complete player than he's given credit for. Everyone knows about the defense and the rebounding, but he was a great screener and he was a great passer. And he could score when he needed to. To me, probably the best thing you can say about him is that he's a big-time winner, too. A fierce competitor. I've got a lot of respect for him. He had a great career."
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It's a career that both Noah and Thibodeau believe should give Rodman entrance into the Hall of Fame. In 14 NBA seasons, Rodman averaged 13.2 rebounds and 7.3 points per game.
"I think he's deserving," Thibodeau said. "He maintained a high level of excellence for a long period of time. He's one of the all-time great rebounders in the history of the league. He helped you execute, and he played tough, and he played big in big moments. So you have to give him a lot of respect for that."
Noah, who spent time with Rodman recently at a Chicago nightclub, agreed.
"Hell, yeah, he's a Hall of Famer," Noah said. "I think people always talk about his antics and all the other stuff, but I think people forget he was a helluva basketball player."
Thibodeau said that Rodman was one of the best defensive players he has ever coached.
"He could defend multiple positions," Thibodeau said. "Great rebounder, great multiple-effort guy, too. I often times think about his rebounding, where he'd tip the ball two, three, four times. He'd just keep going until he got it. He was always in great shape. I think sometimes he probably gets looked at in somewhat of a negative way for the stuff off the court, but on the court he was fabulous. Terrific."
That theory is backed up by the fact that Rodman was a part of five NBA title teams.
"That says it all right there," Thibodeau said. "Statistically, [those] are still pretty amazing numbers when you look at what he did. He wasn't a big-time scorer so sometimes that goes against you. But he was a big-time winner."
As for what he is doing now, Rodman responded this way:
"I just travel country, man. Do my thing. Life is too good to make a lot of mistakes after a professional career."
Rodman believes time has healed all the wounds that may have been inflicted during his long career.
"Everything here in Detroit, I loved. I was walking in the airport, the new Delta airport you guys got, and it's huge. People I haven't ever seen before were telling me we love you back here, you can't help but feel that. You see young kids that say we love you, and it's like, 'Wow, cool.'
"There were some bad moments here in the end, but there wasn't anything towards the organization. I think it was just towards the system that was up-and-down. As far as basketball I have no regrets at all, no regrets at all. If I had to change time and say, OK, Dennis, you need to do this, this, this, nope. I think what I've done in the NBA was very significant and [there's] nothing I can do about that except move on and persevere in life."
Information from Nick Friedell, who covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000, and The Associated Press was used in this report.