Every hall of fame induction ceremony needs one of the former players to rise above the rest in his flair and speech. It was Dennis Rodman, much like Deion Sanders not too long ago in the Football Hall of Fame 2011 inductions, last night, to steal the spotlight from the three other players recognized for their accomplishments in the NBA and beyond – Chris Mullin, Arvydas Sabonis and Artis Gilmore.
Rodman didn’t have an easy life – Never really knowing his father, a man who went on to father children with four different women. Thrown out of the house by his mother, Rodman had his biggest gratitude to James Rich who’s family took Rodman in. We’ll skip the auto biographical interesting part to stuff more basketball related. Rodamn thanked mostly two people – Head coaches Chuck Daly and Phil Jackson.
Jackson was standing next to Rodman during his speech, to whom Rodman turned to twice when struggling to overcome his emotion and find the words he wanted to say. They were mentors, father figures, someone he could call up at any time of the day. They were different from others by looking at the individual that had a good heart, from his own words.
Rodman won 5 NBA titles – two with the Pistons under Daly in 1989 and 1990 and three more with the Chicago Bulls, under Phil Jackson, next to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1996-1998). He won the leagues defensive player of the year award twice and was able to defend all 5 positions. He didn’t mind sticking to a come-backing Magic Johnson in a famous 1996 match during his first season with the Bulls. As unimpressive offensively as you can get, Rodman still made two All-Star games. He was a All-Defensive first team selection 7 times and his most memorable feat – A rebounding king.
In 1992 it looked like he fell in love with the rebound, shocking everyone with a 18.7 per game season, the best in the NBA since 1973, the post Chamberlain and Russell era. He led the league in rebounds seven straight seasons, and his career average of 13.1 is 11th best in NBA History.
Artis Gilmore – Gilmore never won an NBA title, and spent his first few years of pro basketball playing in the ABA for the Kentucky Colonels. He spent his NBA career with the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics before a final retirement season in Europe with Bologna.
Gilmore was an ABA champions and ABA MVP. In the NBA he made six All-Star games and finished his NBA career with career averages of 17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. He led the league in FG percentage four consecutive seasons during the early 80’s.
Chris Mullin – I always wondered how big of a New York start Mullin might have made if he played his pro career with the Knicks, at least partially. Born in Brooklyn and playing his college ball with St. John’s, Mullin spent 12 of his 16 NBA season with the Golden State Warriors.
Recovering from his addiction to Alcohol, Mullin was one of the best scorers in the NBA during the first half of his career, before injuries began taking their toll. He averaged over 25 points per game during between 1988-1992 in four consecutive seasons, during the peak of the Warriors’ run & gun era with Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond (for a while). Mullin was part of the 1992 Dream Team, winning his second Olympic Gold Medal (first in 1984 besides Michael Jordan). He made 5 All-Star games and was once an All-NBA first team selection, in 1992.
Arvydas Sabonis – Sabonis arrived at the NBA in 1995, at the age of 31, nearly a decade after being a first round pick in the 1986 NBA draft. His eight year NBA career with averages of just over 12 points and 7 rebounds was OK, but his dominance in European basketball was what gave Sabonis his place among the all time greats.
Winning a gold for the Soviet Union in the 1988 Olympics, gold in the 1985 European Championships and and gold in the 1982 World Championships, Sabonis was also an eight time European player of the year, the 1985 European Championship MVP, the Spanish League MVP twice and the Euroleague final four MVP in 1995, winning his only Euroleague title with Real Madrid in 1995.