Dennis Rodman is one of the NBA’s most compelling figures both on and off the court and has drawn his share of comparisons.
The release of The Last Dance, the 10-part docuseries following Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dynasty back in March, captivated viewers worldwide. With an entire episode dedicated to Dennis Rodman, one of the most intriguing figures to ever grace the court, one current player boldly compared himself to the five-time NBA champion.
On an episode of the Knuckleheads podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles recently, Montrezl Harrell of the LA Clippers declared himself as the modern-day Dennis Rodman. Considering Rodman gets consideration as one of the best defenders in NBA history, one of the best rebounders, and one of the most impactful because of his sheer presence, some might scoff at the comparison, but Harrell detailed as more mentality-wise.
“I’ve been telling people, I’m the modern day Rodman, for real. I’m the modern day Rodman. That’s it. Rodman, man. Just to watch his whole process in general, man. Like, even after the documentary, I got on Twitter and tweeted “Hey man, we gotta give a lot more credit then what we did.”
“I just looked up to guys who just worked, just competed, just got after it,” Harrell said. “I looked up to guys known for the dog mentality.”
While the 6’8″ Harrell is undersized at the power forward position as the 6’7″ Rodman was and plays with the same type of electric energy, their specialties as players differ significantly. In his fifth NBA season, Harrell is undoubtedly a more dominant scorer than Rodman ever was, putting up an impressive 18.6 points per game this season, his third straight season scoring in double figures. For reference, Rodman only averaged double-digit scoring once in his 14-year career.
Looking at their career averages, the two could not be further apart on the spectrum. In 911 career games, Rodman averaged 7.3 points and 13.1 rebounds, while Harrell has currently played 318 games with averages of 12.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. While their strengths are relativity different, that “dog mentality” Harrell described was spot on. Every time the forward checks in, he brings that intensity and makes his presence known, similar to Rodman. Still, the Rodman-Harrell comparison is not clear as day.
Another player the often gets thrown into the mix, even by Rodman himself, is Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. Speaking with Bleacher Report’s Sean Highkin last year ahead of the release of ESPN’s 30 for 30 Rodman: For Better or Worse, Rodman detailed how he sees some of himself in Green.
“Players have to have the heart to go out there and do whatever they have to do to win. That’s who I look at. You’ve got the Steph Currys, the LeBron James, players like that. But I want to see the player that says, “OK, I want to be the player that stands out to do my job and earn the money for the role that they’re paying me for.” That’s what I’m looking for. I don’t see that player out there. Draymond Green is something sort of like that. But besides him, I don’t see other players who have that passion, who have that love, that drive, they need basketball. No money, no fame. They have three hours of their life, “I’m going out to do my job, to win for people. I’ll get the gratification at the end of the day when I have a ring on my finger.” That’s the kind of player I’m looking for.”
Rodman has a point. Both he and Draymond were 6’7″ third fiddles on a championship team that won multiple rings, playing a role that did not depend on their scoring. Rodman had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, while Green had Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, leaving the big men to play their own roles. The pair have a combined three Defensive Player of the Year awards, and 13 NBA All-Defensive selections, undoubtedly two of the best defenders of their generations because they were allowed to play that role.
With career averages of 9.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game, Green proved to be a more versatile player than Rodman. Green notches the occasional triple-double and has averaged double-digit scoring in four seasons, but the Warriors were never fully dependent on it. The forward can undoubtedly score the ball, but he makes the biggest impact when he is not looking to do so. Green is a stellar playmaker and can create opportunities for the offense. Still, he always received the task regarding the dirty work on those championship teams, and his intensity was reminiscent of Rodman.
While Green might be the closet thing to being a modern-day Rodman, he is not an exact carbon copy either. There is no modern-day Dennis Rodman. He is unmatched. With Michael Jordan, the comparison was always Kobe Bryant because they were nearly identical on the court. With Rodman, no one has shown that type of play in such a precise fashion in today’s game.
In The Last Dance, Rodman stated that he would occasionally go to the gym for hours without shooting a single shot, working on rebounds instead. It was because of work like this that Rodman did not score over 20 points once in his three seasons with the Chicago Bulls, but logged 36 total games with 20 or more rebounds. In today’s league, everything is about scoring, and everyone wants to score, even Green, although it might not be his strong suit.
Both Montrezl Harrell and Draymond Green undoubtedly show similarities to Dennis Rodman with their intensity, energy, and defensive presence. Still, the comparisons are not in black and white, as many might think. Blatantly put, there may never be another player identical to Rodman again. And that is just looking at the Hall of Famer’s personality on the court throughout his NBA career. We will stay away from his off-court antics, for now.