Taking a quick glance at the rebounding stats this season in the NBA, shows that 6’7 Charlotte Bobcats Super Athlete forward Gerald Wallace is leading the NBA, along with an expected Dwight Howard, in rebounds, with 12.2 per game. It’s pretty likely the Howard will be on top when the season comes to an end, but it’s nice to have hope. It’s not just that Wallace is 6’7 and is a Small Forward, it’s also the fact that Wallace has never averaged more than 8 rebounds per game in a season. So, just a early season stat anomaly? Or will Wallace join these guys – the shortest players to win the rebounding title in NBA history?
Dennis Rodman – 6’8
The best rebounder ever? Maybe… he doesn’t have Wilt’s and Russel’s numbers, but those were different times and a very different game than it was during the 90’s, when Rodman ruled the boards. “The Worm” won seven consecutive rebounding titles, beginning in the 1991-1992 season with the Pistons, moving on to the San Antonio Spurs (1993-1995) and then with the Chicago Bulls (1995-1998), part of the Bulls’ second three-peat. Rodman finished his career as a five time NBA champion and was named the defensive player of the year twice (1990, 1991). He retired with a 13.1 rebounds per game career average.
Truck Robinson – 6’7
Leonard Eugene Robinson, better known as Truck, had a successful NBA career from 1974 to 1985 playing for the Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Jazz, Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks. He led the league in rebounding just once, during the 1977-1978 season, enjoying the best season of his career, as he led the league in minutes played (44.4 per game) and of course, rebounding, with 15.7 per game. Robinson was also a two time all-star. His career rebounding average is 9.4.
Wes Unseld – 6’7
At 6’7, Unseld was one of the smallest centers you could find. He was also one of the best, winning the league’s MVP award in 1969, only the second player in history to do it in his rookie season. He led the league in rebounding only once, in the 1974-1975 season, averaging 14.8 rebounds per game. He had better seasons prior to 1975, but Wilt was still around, and he had a monopoly on rebounds. Unseld won the title with the Bullets in 1978. Unseld averaged 14 rebound per game in his 13 NBA season-career.
Maurice Stokes – 6’7
One of the sadder stories in NBA history, Maurice Stokes got to play in only three NBA seasons before suffering a debilitating head injury during the last game of the 1957-1958 season. He returned for the playoffs a few days later, and after a game against the Detroit Pistons (Stokes played for Cincinnati at the time), Stokes became ill and later suffered a seizure. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic encephalopathy, a brain injury that damaged his motor control center. He died 12 years later of a heart attack. In the three years he did get to play in, Stokes played in three all-star games and led the league in rebounding during his rookie season with 16.3. His career average was 17.3 in three seasons with the Rochester turned Cincinnati Royals.
Harry Gallatin – 6’6
“The Horse” played in the real early days of the NBA, starting his way in the 1940’s. He played with the New York Knicks for nine seasons and one season with the Detroit Pistons. He was a seven time all-star and won the rebounding title in 1954, playing as a 6’6 center. He averaged 15.3 rebounds per game that season and finished his career with an 11.9 average. His 33 rebounds in one game from 1953 is still a New York Knicks record.
Mel Hutchins – 6’6
Another member of the good ol’ days when you could be a center at 6’6. Hutchins played in the NBA from 1951-1958 for three teams – the Milwaukee Hawks, the Fort Wayne Pistons and the New York Knicks. In his rookie season (1951-1952) he co-led the league in rebounding with 13.3. He retired with four all-star games under his belt and a career average of 9.6 rebounds per game.
Charles Barkley – 6’4
Charles Barkley is listed at 6’6, but according to him and others, he’s actually 6’4. That didn’t bother him from being one of the best rebounders and players of his generation, despite being a very undersized Power Forward. Barkley led the league in rebounding only once, in 1986-1987, with 14.6 boards per game during his Philly days, but he was an outstanding rebounder regardless of titles. He averaged 10+ rebounds in every season he played except for his rookie year, when he averaged 8.6. He finished his 16 year NBA career with 11.7 rebounds per game, along with one MVP award and 11 all-star game appearances.