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Emotional Dennis Rodman, Tex Winter among Hall of Fame inductees

After a costume change, Rodman thanks many, including Phil Jackson and Jerry Buss. Tex Winter's son says: 'When Dad was Phil's age, he started a whole new 20-year career.'

August 12, 2011|By K.C. Johnson
  • Dennis Rodman is embraced by former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson at the end of an emotional speech during his Pro Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement on Friday night in Springfield, Mass.
Dennis Rodman is embraced by former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson… (Stephan Savoia / Associated…)

Reporting from Springfield, Mass. — Leave it to Dennis Rodman to turn a celebration into a therapy session.

On the Friday night, the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls great entered the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame along with Artis Gilmore, assistant coach Tex Winter and seven others, an emotional Rodman laid bare his failures as a son to his mother, Shirley, and as a father and husband to his wife, Michelle, and his three children.

And he did so following a costume change, to boot.

Photos: Dennis Rodman through the years

With Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler, Jim Cleamons, Jerry Krause and Phil Jackson looking on, Rodman took the stage wearing a jacket with "DR" and his Pistons' No. 10 and Bulls' No. 91 in sequins with lace sleeves protruding. He immediately started crying before working through several thank-yous, saving extra praise for Jackson, Lakers owner Jerry Buss, former Pistons coach Chuck Daly and James Rich, the father of a family that took him in during college.

Rodman also humorously thanked NBA Commissioner David Stern "to have me even in the building" after being escorted to the stage by his children with Jackson as his presenter waiting.

"This game has been very good to me," said Rodman, whose 14-year career included a brief stint with the Lakers. "I could've been anywhere in the world. I could've been dead. I could've been a drug dealer. I could've been homeless; I was homeless. It took a lot of hard work and bumps along the road."

The speech spotlighted Rodman at his conflicted core, alternately outrageous and shy. When he praised Pippen and Michael Jordan, it was a reminder of why so many loved him as a teammate for his selfless defense and rebounding.

"I didn't play the game for the money," he said. "I didn't play the game to be famous. What you see here is just an illusion that I love to be an individual that is very colorful."

Earlier, Gilmore, a gentle giant, opened his speech with a nod to the 23 years he had to wait for enshrinement after his retirement.

"My name is Artis Gilmore and I am a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame," he said.

He then eloquently and humorously accepted his honor, saying the American Basketball Assn. was "Showtime before there was Showtime" and wishing Jordan had played before him "because then in all the pictures I wouldn't be wearing those short shorts we wore back in the day."

With presenter Julius Erving standing nearby, he paused to reflect on his poor upbringing.

"Growing up in my hometown as a youngster in Chipley, Fla., playing with tied-up balls that didn't bounce and shoes and clothes that didn't fit, I idolized players like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson," he said. "I never dreamt that one day my name would join theirs as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame."

Winter, 89, did not deliver a speech because he suffered a massive stroke in April 2009. That didn't stop Winter from making brief remarks Thursday at a news conference and standing next to his son, Chris, and presenter Jackson on Friday as Chris delivered a mostly rambling summary of his father's career.

"Phil is stepping down again," Chris Winter said. "He says he feels like he's losing touch. It's another last dance, a last tango. When Dad was Phil's age, he started a whole new 20-year career.

"Tex would probably say to Phil and everyone out there that there's really no rest in the world. If you have something to offer, offer it. It's not that Tex really ever believed he belonged in here. He just really didn't believe in sitting on his backside. That's all there is to it."

Photos: Dennis Rodman through the years

kcjohnson@tribune.com

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