Dennis Rodman the best rebounder ever? Maybe the biggest cheap shot artist ever.
ERIC L. SISSON, LONGMONT, COLO.
Rebounding & Rodman
While watching a Bulls game recently on TV, it seemed to me that every time there was a missed shot, the ball caromed toward Dennis Rodman. Phil Taylor's article told me why this phenomenon occurred (Tricks of the Trade, March 4). Many people see Rodman's dyed hair and tattoos and dismiss him as a self-promoter. They knock him as a one-dimensional player, but he is a student of the game and of rebounding. His unselfish passing and leadership have been invaluable to the Bulls this year. It's time to get off Rodman's back and appreciate him as a great basketball player.
ERIC KENNEY, Elon College, N.C.
If you asked Shaquille O'Neal not to score and just rebound, he would be averaging twice as many rebounds as Rodman. There's the difference: Shaq scores and rebounds, while Rodman only rebounds. In the past six years, Rodman's highest scoring average hasn't even been in double digits.
MICHAEL PAK, Ramsey, N.J.
How can anyone place Bill Russell third behind Rodman and Wilt Chamberlain in rebounding? Russell is the leading career rebounder if you calculate rebounds per minute played, .531 to Chamberlain's .500 during regular season play and .547 to Chamberlain's .518 during the playoffs.
SCOTT KIESEL, Belmond, Iowa
Although Rodman's suspension for head-butting a referee on March 16 may cloud the issue for some, I don't believe that we should lose sight of the contribution that he has made to the game.
Comparisons between the performances of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell and current players are problematic. During the period I played in the NBA (1961 to '75), every franchise had a rebounder, and a tough one. Chamberlain had so many talents that his achievements as a rebounder are sometimes overlooked. There were many other greats—Elgin Baylor, Dave DeBusschere, Gus Johnson, to name a few. As for Chamberlain and Russell, we should not forget that they were doing double and triple duty—making hoops as they were going up against powerful centers and forwards. These aggressive players were understood to be an essential part of every team.
Today, with an increased emphasis on the slam dunk, three-pointers and other crowd pleasers, the importance of the rebounder has been obscured. Only Rodman and Karl Malone come quickly to mind in surveying today's game. It is ironic that it required Rodman's eccentricity and temper to bring attention to the dynamics of the inside game of basketball.
BILL BRIDGES, Santa Monica, Calif.
?The 6'5" Bridges wasn't exactly a slouch under the boards; he had 11,054 rebounds during his pro career, second most behind Baylor for a player standing 6'6" or less.—ED.
I thought your readers would be interested to know that Dennis Rodman may have picked up some of his "tricks of the trade" from his older sister, Debra. Debra, a 6'3" center for Louisiana Tech's women's basketball team from 1980 to '84, was also a relentless rebounder and a flamboyant player. In four seasons she totaled 1,200 boards, which places her second on the Lady Techsters' alltime list. She played for two national championship teams ('81 and '82) and helped the Lady Techsters to an amazing 130-6 four-year record.
Leon Barmore, who has been the coach at Tech for 14 years and has the highest career winning percentage among active college coaches, men or women, had this to say about Debra in 1983: "Debra Rodman is the best rebounder in the game today. She values a rebound like most players value a basket." Sound familiar?
Sports Information Director
Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, La.