It’s becoming pretty accepted at this point that no one in today’s NBA is capable of covering LeBron James. A player who can take over a game and consistently post the kind of statistics King James had is rare, and what’s even rarer are players who are capable of slowing those kinds of talents down.
Michael Jordan perhaps made the phrase “You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him” what it is today. And there are certainly the guys in the league that are near impossible to stop even with elite defenders, like LBJ, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.
There aren’t any guys in the league to matchup with that trio of elite scorers. But there once was.
Dennis Rodman could have done a lot more than just “cover” them, but damn near shut ‘em down. He made legends look like D-Leaguers sometimes, he was so overly aggressive, yet somehow managed to take up every millimeter of free air between he and a defender without fouling out very often at all.
That’s why Worm is the 37th best player of all-time for me. The game is played on two ends, and if you’re going to say the legendary guys on offense are top tier all time greats, it’s only fair to give the guys who specialized on the less glamorous end their fair share of credit.
Of course, Rodman is a Hall of Famer, so it’s not like no one noticed he had a great career. It’s just that you’ll never hear him mentioned as a guy people would consider anywhere near the best at his postion, whereas a player of lesser overall greatness will get into those discussions because people only see points go on the board.
Only astute watchers of the game notice the ones that never go up there at all. Rodman’s stats were the ones you had to look closely for, because it wasn’t just blocking shots, getting steals, or even grabbing over 15 rebounds a game for a decade – it was the fact that the Pistons and Bulls were always +15, +20 for his minutes on the court. It was also the fact that you almost never looked at an opposing team’s boxscore and then thought “Shit, I wonder who was covering that guy,” just to find out that Rodman had been on him.
It just didn’t happen.