Dennis Rodman, Tex Winter, and Artis Gilmore Enter the Basketball Hall of Fame

In praise of Rodman’s rebounding, Winter’s complex triangle offense, and Gilmore’s thighs. Plus: the 1976 ABA dunk contest, when men were men and basketballs were red, white, and blue.

Dennis Rodman chicago bulls

Dennis Rodman

Drama aside, Rodman authored one of the greatest individual performances in basketball, a 34-rebound game against the Pacers in 1992, when he averaged 18.7 boards a game. (Keep in mind Rodman is 6’6”.) That year Rodman got 1530 rebounds, the only player to do so after the NBA/ABA merger (previously, the last player to do it had been… Artis Gilmore).

The top five rebounding seasons since the merger:

1. Dennis Rodman, 1992, 1530
2. Moses Malone (6’10"), 1978, 1444
3. Dennis Rodman, 1993, 1367
4. Dennis Rodman, 1997, 1201
5. Dikembe Mutombo (7’2"), 1999, 1157

 

Tex Winter

Winter, the architect of the triangle offense made famous by the legendary Bulls teams of the 1990s and the Lakers teams of the 2000s (and a former college coach at Marquette and Northwestern), gets a long-overdue nod. The triangle offense is complex, but the basics are that the principle of the triangle creates separation and open passing lanes, and that it’s not tied to set plays. Instead of the point guard calling a play and the offense going through the motions, one decision triggers the next.

The best explanation I’ve seen is this lengthy post at SB Nation, which only covers three sets (if you want more, here’s another explanation). The complications of the triangle offense can make it difficult to implement.

It was Jerry Krause who lured Winter to the Bulls, and who boycotted Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame induction over Winter’s snubbing; Krause had wanted to work with Winter for 30 years.

 

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Artis Gilmore

* From the annals of great basketball stats: “though his waist is only 32", each of his thighs is 27” around. Gilmore’s hamstrings are so well developed that he appears to be running and jumping on the world’s two largest frogs’ legs, a real asset in his newest hobby, scuba diving.”

* From the annals of great basketball bootstrap-origins:

If Gilmore is sturdier than Alcindor, he is like him in many other ways, although education is not one of them. While Alcindor came out of a good private high school in New York City, Gilmore came from a poor, all-black school in Chipley, Fla., 80 or so miles the other side of Tallahassee in the Florida panhandle and just this side of nowhere. He was in the same school from the first through the 11th grades, and for a long time, since it did not have a gymnasium, the kids played on an outdoor clay court.

“Sometimes there would be barrels of fuel burning around the court so you could stand next to them to warm up, then go play some more,” Gilmore recalls. “When we were done at the end of a day we were so tired we could hardly walk home.”

* Here’s Gilmore during the 1976 ABA dunk contest, which also featured Julius Erving, George Gervin, and David Thompson (now somewhat forgotten, but he was sort of the proto-Michael Jordan, or at least the proto-Vince Carter).

 

Photograph: Chicago Tribune

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