Another retired player has a problem with rest in the NBA. On Tuesday’s “Reiter Than You,” Dennis Rodman told CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter that it’s “easy” to be great in today’s game, ranting and raving about how what Michael Jordan did was so much more difficult than what LeBron James is doing now. You can watch it above.
“You know what, LeBron’s doing one thing that I always said that Michael Jordan never did,” Rodman said. “He never rested. He played every game. He played every game. LeBron has the position to do this now because they need him. The league needs him that’s why he’s doing all this crazy s--- now like bitching and complaining and all this [BS].”
Quick interruption: Let’s not forget that Jordan took a sabbatical of sorts after nine seasons. He didn’t play in 1993-94, instead becoming a minor-league baseball player, and returned to basketball with 17 games left in the 1994-95 regular-season. He also retired for three seasons from 1998 to 2011 before joining the Washington Wizards. James has already played in 20 more playoff games than Jordan and will pass him in regular-season games early next season. At 32 years old, James has played more career minutes than Jordan. If rest is something that must be earned, then no one has earned it more than LeBron.
OK, back to Rodman: “It’s very easy to do what they define greatness [as now] -- Michael Jordan did it when it was tough, really tough. And what’d he do? Lead the league in scoring 10 years in a row. Ten years in a row, he led the league in scoring. Ten years in a row, back then, that was hard. Averaged like 32 points a game. That was hard back then. Now it’s easy. All these [expletive] triple-doubles … back then when he was getting his ass whooped, I mean beat down every game, and then when he played against us [the Detroit Pistons], he said -- guess what -- ‘I gotta go back in the gym.’ And he got tough. He got tough and he got great. And greater. So, that’s it.”
Jordan did in fact lead the league in scoring 10 years in a row, as long as you disregard the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons when he was retired or partially retired. No one is trying to diminish that. And it’s true that Jordan decided he needed to get stronger after the Pistons roughed him up and eliminated the Chicago Bulls three years in a row. It’s hard to understand, though, why this needs to be framed as a contrast to James’ incredible career. It’s not hard to find footage of opponents trying to be physical with the Cleveland Cavaliers star, and it’s silly to think he couldn’t lead the league in scoring just about every year if he made that his top priority.
Rodman won three championships with the Bulls, so his stance on the Jordan vs. LeBron debate shouldn’t surprise anybody. He has been, though, and it just comes off as petty and uninformed. There’s nothing “easy” about what James has done whatsoever.