Tag Archives: Dennis Rodman

Well, this stinks.  Two months of quarantining were largely made tolerable by having new episodes of The Last Dance to look forward to.  And now that’s over.

My social life is pretty sad during regular times, and it’s even sadder during a quarantine.  During regular times, a major part of my socializing is watching basketball with friends and talking about basketball with friends.  That remained true during the quarantine, even without live basketball to watch.  My text messages would be most active on Sunday evenings into Monday, with chatter about the current episodes.

Now that the documentary is over, and there’s no end of the quarantine on the immediate horizon, the outlook is grim for my social life.  I might as well try to extend the discussion by posting my thoughts about the documentary and the discussion it generated, and hope it motivates a few people to communicate with me.

After watching all 10 episodes of the documentary, discussing lots of it with my friends, and spending too much time on Twitter reading what strangers were saying about it, my main thought… is about Carmen Electra.

Actually, strike that.  I should stick to basketball. I’ll try again.

Basketball, basketball, basketball. You know who must have been really good at basketball? Carmen Electra must have been really good at basketball.  In 1998,  Dennis Rodman’s productivity was slipping, then he spent a few days in the middle of the season in Las Vegas with Carmen, and he came back an improved basketball player.  Stands to reason that she’s great at basketball, and they got some quality practice time together while in Vegas.  Right?

Uhhh…. You know what?  Let’s forget about Carmen Electra altogether, and move on to other topics.

My main thought, after watching the documentary, discussing the documentary, listening to commentary about the documentary, and reading about the documentary, is that Scottie Pippen has become extremely over-rated.

Yeah, I said it.  OVERrated.

I keep hearing that Scottie Pippen was under-rated. For the life of me, I don’t understand where the people who make this claim think Scottie Pippen is rated. Back when the NBA “turned 50,” it recognized 50 players as the best 50 to have ever played.  Pippen was among the top 50. Bill Simmons is the one person alive who has devoted years to creating a system for ranking the best NBA players throughout history, and then actually ranking them.  He has Pippen at #28.  Just this month, ESPN pulled together a list of the top 100.  They have Pippen at 21.

21?!?!  That’s insane.  Even 28 is pushing it.

Each of those rankings puts Pippen ahead of Dwyane Wade. (Simmons had Wade at 53 when he published his book in 2009, and Wade’s not one of the guys Simmons bumped ahead of Pippen as of April 2020. ESPN puts Wade at 26.) ESPN has Isiah at 31, and Barkley at 23.

The fundamental mistake these rankings make is that they overvalue rings achieved as the second-best player on a team, and they undervalue the immense achievement of making a bad team competitive, or of leading a team to a title even just one time.  In the ’02-03 season, Miami was 25-57. Then they drafted Wade, and they made the playoffs in 10 of the next 12 seasons, including 3 championships. Some people pretend there’s a question about who was the best player on their ’06 championship team between Wade and Shaq, but Wade averaged 27 points in 38 Minutes Per Game that season, while Shaq averaged 20 points in 30 Minutes Per Game. There’s no question – Wade was the top player on that team.

Isiah’s even better.  In the 1980-81 season, the Pistons were 21-61. Then they drafted Isiah, and made the playoffs every year from 1984 – 1992, including two championships and one additional Finals appearance.

Pippen never joined a bad team and made them good.  He can’t be blamed for that; it’s not his fault that he joined a team that already had MJ.  But, it’s not like he played his entire career on MJ’s team.  In 1994, he was the best player on a Bulls team that lost in the second round.  In 1995, he was the best player on a Bulls team that was 34-31 when Jordan announced he was coming out of retirement.  Pippen then spent 5 more years in the league (disregarding his ceremonial final season on the Bulls), and never made The Finals. His best team achievement without MJ was making the Conference Finals once, and his best statistical season without MJ was 93-94, when he averaged 22 points, 6 assists, and 9 rebounds.

Pippen was a phenomenal player, no question about it.  If I really took the time to rank everyone, I’d probably put him between 30 and 35. But to rank as Top 25 of all time, shouldn’t you have a track record of making a bad team good, or at least of being the best player on a Finals team if not on a championship team? A whole bunch of phenomenal players achieved at least one of those things, and I don’t see how Pippen’s achievements jump him ahead of those players.

There’s much more to say about this, but I doubt any of the three of you are still reading.  Stay safe, hoopservers.

1 Comment:

  • Joshua Sipkin

    Pippen is underrated because his name and game will forever be automatically associated with Jordan. It is fair to say that’s an unfair disadvantage to him when discussing his individual talents and accomplishments. Pippen was great. GREAT. No, he didn’t win without the best ever on his team but, the best ever didn’t win any titles without Pippen on his team.

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1.  Let’s put this one on the table at the outset… I have a man-crush on Chris Paul.  And I ain’t ashamed to say it.

2.  I’m all types of confused after watching the Knicks a bunch recently.  When they traded for Carmelo, every article I read about the trade said that they DID NOT TRADE Landry Fields.  Yet, I’ve watched a whole bunch of Knicks games since the trade and haven’t seen him do a single thing.  I mean, there’s a guy on the court wearing a Fields jersey, running around and sweating, but that guy doesn’t attack the rim, doesn’t crash the boards, and doesn’t even play good defense.  It’s really quite baffling.  It’s like something got into the guy’s head, and took away his mojo.  Reminds me of whatever-it-is-that-happened-to-LeBron-in-the-middle-of-last-year’s-series-against-Boston.  I hope Delonte West had nothing to do with this.

3.  The evidence is in, and it’s quite clear: knees are overrated.  Yup.  DeJuan Blair has no ACL in either knee, yet is an effective player on the #1 seeded team out West.  Brandon Roy has fallen from superstar status to a bench player because of crippling knee injuries, yet, there he was the other day, carrying his team to victory.  And, all season, I’ve been listening to The Sports Guy on his podcast talk about how unimaginably big Chris Paul’s knee brace is when seen in person, and how Paul’s shelf-life as a star PG is limited.  All CP3 has done is lead the overmatched Hornets to a 2-2 tie against the two-time defending champions.

4.  Have I mentioned yet how amazing Chris Paul is?

5.  One of the most misused terms is “role player,” and the problem with the term is used is clearly illustrated by this year’s New York Knicks.  People refer to Carmelo, Amar’e, Chauncey, and a bunch of “role players.”  But that’s inaccurate; there are hardly any true role players on the roster.  I guess Douglas could be a player whose role is to come off the bench, harass the opponent’s PG, and knock down some 3’s.  But when he’s asked to lead the offense at the PG – as he often is – he’s not in that role. What role has Landry Fields been filling?  Early in the season, he did a bunch of things — including grab more rebounds per game than any other guard in the league.  Recently, he hasn’t filled any role.  There’s nobody whose role is to control the paint and the glass – this is theoretically what Turiaf does, but he doesn’t actually do it.  Shawne Williams is a 6’9″ forward who attempts more than 3 three-point shots per game, and pulls down fewer than 4 rebounds per game. I guess that’s a “role,” but it’s not a role that winning teams bother to fill.

To make the point clearer, think of the great Bulls teams.  Dennis Rodman was a role player — a phenomenal one, but a role player — whose job was to rebound and play defense.  Steve Kerr couldn’t rebound or play defense, but that was fine because his role was to shoot.  Bill Cartwright wasn’t much of an outside shooter, but that was fine because his role was to operate near the rim.

Basically, there’s a difference between guys who are role players and guys who just aren’t that good.  Two superstars and the right mix of role players can be a very good team.  Two superstars and a bunch of guys who just aren’t that good isn’t going very far.

 

 

 

2 Comments:

  • ZackNovakJr.

    Thinking about role players is interesting. Boston got it right when it found Rondo and Perkins to complement their 3 stars. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem that Miami has found what it needs. I think of role players as guys who are useful because they do one or two things really well, but don’t have enough other skills to become stars. The key is putting a role player in a position to succeed – a situation where he is asked to do what he is good at and not asked to do what he is not good at. The Pistons asked Ben Wallace to rebound a play D – that worked and Wallace was great. Team USA asked him to score – that didn’t and Wallace looked like a guy who would have had trouble in the NBDL. Now thinking about Landry Fields, I don’t see what his one or two things that he does really well are. He’s ok at everything, but great at nothing. I think he was just lucky to fall into a situation on pre-Carmelo Knicks where his hustle and team play were valued and his skills were secondary. Carmelo changed the vibe on the Knicks. Team play isn’t the priority anymore, the individual is what’s valued now. The Knicks are about getting Carmelo his shots and A’mare his, and then worrying about the team after that. In this new environment, where Fields best skills are no longer valued, he’s lost and thus no longer a useful role player. If Fields can find a team that needs a hustle player or “glue” guy, he may still make it in the NBA.

  • Tweener

    Good stuff, Novak. I generally agree with you, up to your comment that, on the current Knicks “team play isn’t the priority, the individual is what’s valued now.” I don’t think we can test that statement until we see what the Knicks look like after surrounding Carmelo and Amar’e with the right kinds of role players (e.g. a center who rebounds and blocks shots on D, and operates down low on offense, a shooting guard who can shoot, and a healthy point guard who creates good shots for his ‘mates).

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