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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hall beckons for Rodman

HOUSTON (AP) Dennis Rodman earned plenty of labels during his sometimes turbulent NBA career.

News photo
Career capper: Chris Mullin poses with a jersey at the Hall of Fame announcement in Houston on Monday. AP PHOTO

Here's one the player who created chaos on — and sometimes off — the court never expected: Hall of Famer. Rodman headlined the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's 2011 class announced on Monday at the Final Four, a group that includes former Dream Team member Chris Mullin and Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer.

"It's just unreal," Rodman said.

And somewhat unexpected, at least to the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and five-time NBA champion who believed his extracurricular activities — including donning a wedding dress to marry himself and kicking a photographer in the groin — would overshadow his on-the-court accomplishments.

"I looked at the way I am, and I thought I wouldn't get in," Rodman said.

Also part of the class were: coaches Tex Winter, innovator of the triangle offense, and Philadelphia University's Herb Magee; longtime NBA and ABA star Artis Gilmore; former Portland TrailBlazers center Arvydas Sabonis; Olympic gold medalist Teresa Edwards; Harlem Globetrotter Reece "Goose" Tatum; and Boston Celtic Tom "Satch" Sanders.

Winter refined the triangle offense and helped the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers win nine NBA championships as an assistant to Phil Jackson. He retired following the 2006 season, capping a career that included a successful stint at Kansas State, where he led the Wildcats to two Final Fours.

Winter learned the triangle while playing for Sam Barry at USC in the 1940s then spent decades tweaking it. The system focused on sharing the ball and allowed Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to flourish with the Bulls.

Winter later followed Jackson to the Lakers, where the triangle let Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal cohabitate successfully on their way to three straight titles.

When informed of the honor last week, Rodman thought it was a prank. He figured there was no way the voters could get past his outlandish antics and focus on a career in which he became one of the best rebounders in league history.

"They looked past all the negativity and thought 'Wow, he actually did change the game a little bit,' " said Rodman, who averaged 13.1 rebounds a game while playing for five teams. "I wasn't a good scorer. I wasn't the best athlete. But I was part of the machine."

Mullin, a five-time All-Star and St. John's all-time leading scorer, will be making his second trip to the induction ceremonies in as many years. He was enshrined last summer as part of the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball team.

Standing a few feet from Rodman, the straight-laced Mullin, complete with crew cut, pointed to the dynamic personalities in the group as proof of basketball's global reach.

"That's what this game is about, anyone can contribute," he said.

For VanDerveer, Monday's announcement was bittersweet, coming just hours after her Stanford team lost 63-62 to Texas A&M in a national semifinal in Indianapolis.

In December, VanDerveer became the sixth woman to get 800 coaching victories.

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