Posted June 07, 2013

Dennis Rodman: LeBron James would be ‘average player’ in late ’80s or early ’90s

LeBron James, Michael Jordan
Dennis Rodman and Michael Jordan

Dennis Rodman (left) won three titles with Michael Jordan. (Mike Nelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Dennis Rodman doesn’t put any stock in the comparisons between Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

“If LeBron was playing in the late ’80s or early ’90s,” Rodman said, “he’d be just an average player.”

Rodman went on to tell The Dan Patrick Show in an interview that aired Friday that LeBron is “a great player, a helluva player,” but the Hall of Fame rebounding ace said Jordan dominated a much tougher era in leading the Bulls to six titles in the 1990s.

“If Michael played today … really? If he played the game today at 28 years old, he would average 40 points a game, probably more,” said Rodman, who won three titles as Jordan’s teammate with Chicago.

Rodman added: “I’m just sick and tired of people always comparing him and Michael Jordan. It’s a whole different era, man.”

Pressed by Patrick about an “average” LeBron, Rodman said: “Look at those teams [when Rodman played]. Look at the Cleveland Cavaliers. Look at Golden State when they had Chris Webber and all of those guys. If those teams then could play now, they would kick anybody’s ass today. Are you kidding me?”

Heat coach: Impossible to compare James and Jordan

Rodman said it’d be “no contest” if the Bulls of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Rodman played today’s Heat of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

“The Heat has better talent than we had, but we had smarter players,” Rodman said. “We would match up with the Heat easy. I would take Bosh out of his damn game easy. That’s not even a problem. How would Dwyane Wade match up with Scottie Pippen? Really? Scottie Pippen would guard LeBron easy. How are you going to cover those two guys [Jordan and Pippen]?”

Rodman said he would have welcomed the chance to guard James.

“If I was 28 years old guarding LeBron … are you kidding me?” Rodman said. “If he scored on me, I would be like, OK, thanks. Guess what, though? Sooner or later, somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose, and most of the time I don’t lose.”

Here’s a clip of Rodman’s interview with Patrick, who brings up James and Jordan at the 2:10 mark:

154 comments
NewtonAnastacio
NewtonAnastacio

There's no great defensive player in the league like 80s an 90s. Remember Joe dumars, John starks, Gary Payton, Xavier Macdanniel, Gerald wilkins, Don Marjele, Isaiah Thomas, Ron Harper.  I don't think Lebron can play against these guys in their prime. NOT A CHANGE. Remember Lebron is 2-2 in nba finals. Jordan is 6-0, and Kobe is 5-2. Lebron left Cleveland to find a better team in order for him to win a championship. Jordan and Kobe never done that.

Ronnie2
Ronnie2

It took Jordan 7 years to make the nba finals, Lebron three years.

Blake7
Blake7

Dont't forget that if Jordan didn't retire to play baseball, the Bulls would have won 8 titles in a row. The Rockets wouldn't have stood a chance.

KarlSiller
KarlSiller

I agree with Rodman, since Lebron was about 12 in the 80's....Dumbass.

tomjoad
tomjoad

I must agree with worm on this,only thing that could stop bulls with Jordan,Pippen,Kukoc,Rodman and longley is God himself.Comparation 80,90,00,10 era is very hard thing,I am europian so my wiev is non bias,the regular season in nba is NOT watchable any more,poore quality games.LOL i would prefair 2 see today cavs vs Ewing,Mason,OakleyStarks and Harper injury list would be long after game.

sam2
sam2

Rodman in the late 80's / early 90's with the Pistons: best defender the NBA has ever seen and it isn't even close. He could guard PG's and PF's. And I'm not talking about fake PF's that Lebron is guarding. I'm talking about PF's who could actually play some basketball. 

But McGrady said it the best: there are a lot of boys playing in a mens' league in this era. And most of those boys lack basketball IQ and skill. But they sure can run and jump... too bad it's not track and field.

kbach
kbach

To me the difference is drive.  When the pressure was on, Jordan had a legendary will to win.  I've always felt like Lebron is more interested in building his brand... if he is the best player on the floor in a game, that's good enough for him.

Play6maker
Play6maker

Jordan is better. It's not argument. Hands down, it's Jordan. But just the fact that we ALL are making comparison with LBJ only in his 9th season, says something. Kobe is better. He's played for 17 yrs and has 5 rings. I've heard all the arguments. Well..... In 3 or 4 years when Wade has 5 rings will we say Wade is better than Kobe? What if he has 6? Is he as good as Jordan? If Wade has 6, then LBJ will have only 5. Will Wade be better than Bron too?The point is you cannot compare them LBJ and Jordan YET. Wait til he is done. We will see he may have as big an impact Jordan had. Maybe not.... Gotta get past Spurs still. Tough tough task. That's coming from a Heat fan of 20+ years. Oh yeah... Let us not listen to Rodman. He is a buffoon. All he did was rebound. Nothing more,

vgutz9
vgutz9

Blah, Blah, Blah.......  Everyone keeps comparing Mebron and Jordan....  Heck, Kobe was a better player than  Mebron in his prime and I hate the Lakers....

damieonr
damieonr

Go heat all yall haters pick a team if you don't like the heat keep it to your damn self!

PamemakeJones
PamemakeJones

Seriously, against the Pistons? Lambeer, Thomas, Rodman, etc. The Heat wouldn't stand a chance and would come out limping. Really? Heat loses 5 of 7 games consistently.

RG3bKillinem
RG3bKillinem

Everyone that has replied to this post is either leaning towards Jordan dominating today's game, and Lebron not being as great in the late 80s early 90s; or they are saying Lebron puts up these numbers, and compared to Jordan, blah blah blah, lots of shots, Jordan could only be the "show" blah blah blah.... Okay, now to get real... Nobody knows how Lebron would have played in the late 80s early 90s... He is an all-star athlete with incredible conditioning and strength, he gets assists, points and rebounds. Sure, it is 2013 and the teams of yesteryear are not what they are today, but Lebron James is a smart basketball player. Period. Love him or Hate him, he plays ball with his mind as well as his body. The man had 18 rebounds and 10 assists last night. Jordan might score 40 points a game in today's game, but he would end up like Carmelo or Durant... Sitting home watching, unless he had a couple supporting guys to help... See the Spurs? Big three, not a single player game people... Come on

zach6
zach6

How sad is it Rodman is more honest than 90% of this country trying to make peace w/ North Korea, speaking the truth on Lebron. Scaryyyy

UleNotknow
UleNotknow

LeBron would be average for sure if we're talking about crackpots. Rodman rules supreme there.

Play6maker
Play6maker

So tiring. Most of you commentimg didn't even know Jordan. Never watched him. I remember "he's a ball hog"..."takes 30 shots to get 30 points"..."Jordan gets all the calls"...He was nothing til he got his supporting cast. Then he became great! Greatest of all time. He blocked my Hardaway/Mourning Championship Rings year in, year out. Right now he is the greatest of all time. BUT he had many a night going 5 for 27 with 6 TO's. you will never ever never see a stat line, like that, from LBJ. Different era, different position, different everything.

Play6maker
Play6maker

So tiring. Most of you commentimg didn't even know Jordan. Never watched him. I remember "he's a ball hog"..."takes 30 shots to get 30 points"..."Jordan gets all the calls"...

He was nothing til he got his supporting cast. Then he became great! Greatest of all time. He blocked my Hardaway/Mourning Championship Rings year in, year out.

Right now he is the greatest of all time. BUT he had many a night going 5 for 27 with 6 TO's. you will never ever never see a stat line, like that, from LBJ.

Different era, different position, different everything.

metalkiwis
metalkiwis

Rodman has always been out of his damn mind. 


But he was right about Jordan. He would dominate this era. The man was putting up 40 when he was 40 as the game was becoming more like what it is today. He would literally be unstoppable if he was playing in this era. 

Whatever
Whatever

Nothing surprising here. It seems like every retired player, no matter the sport, claims that the guys they played with were the best ever.

The reality is that basketball players now are bigger, faster and stronger than those in the 1980s and 1990s. Jordan invented so much and was so amazing that everyone with any talent (and even those without) worked tirelessly to emulate him and try to move even beyond him.

The biggest difference between LeBron and Jordan is LeBron doesn't need to be the guy, the one who wins every game, the one who does everything and takes it all on his shoulders all the time. LeBron is cool with other people getting the spotlight, so long as they perform. If they're not performing, he takes over. Jordan only knew how to be the show.

GuilhermeNiciunovas
GuilhermeNiciunovas

Sorry Rodam, you suck and Lebron is better than Jordan in every stat you pick except for FT's

John4
John4

Dennis - you broke fool.  Why don't you just go back to North Korea and do something useful?  

ITATTRACTS
ITATTRACTS

despite everyone calling him names, he's 100% right. the Bulls/Pistons of that era would eat the Heat for lunch. that was a man's game back then, Lebron as much as I respect him, doesn't show the steel toughness that those teams demanded back in the day. that said, maybe he doesn't need to because the entire league is softer now. would he be able to adapt? 

ratedrex
ratedrex

Rodman makes my All-NBA squad, along with MJ, Magic, Bird, Lebron, Kobe, Kareem, Olajuwon,Wilt, Pippen, Shaq and Durant.  My reserve guys would be Duncan, Bernard King and Russell.

Bilbo
Bilbo

If Rodman were in the NBA today, him and LeBron would be dating.

6marK6
6marK6

I think all NBA debates started in the media today are Jordan v. James debates, as if they are the only two players that ever played. It is so tiring and transparent. F Nike!

brianjm26
brianjm26

Breaking news Dwayne Wade is done he is no longer a great player Blame the knee I blame the arrogance thinking they could just show up and win pacere made them play and know are going to get schooled by old school

brianjm26
brianjm26

hear this once and for all did Jordan lose a finals No if the heat lose this one Lebron will be 1-3 and just to crush some of you but he lost one with bosh and wade in Miami so he had players to and didn't get the job done don't put him into the same cat as Jordan,Magic Bird or even Kobe he don't come close

P0is0nedKoolA1
P0is0nedKoolA1

@Play6maker Kobe has 5 rings, but the best player on the court for 3 of those rings was Shaq so goodbye to that. LeBron's problem, in game one for example, is he's not selfish enough. Lebron doesn't have that thing in him where he says "OK ENOUGH, GIVE ME THE BALL, I'M WINNING THIS OR LOSING THIS" which Jordan had 

AmirBell
AmirBell

The difference between Jordan and Carmelo/Durant is that Jordan was on the first team All Defensive squad. Jordan was more then a scorer. He made you play on both sides of the court. You had to guard him and he definitely could guard you or the best player on your team. Also, Jordan had that kill. Kobe is the last person I have seen with that type of tenacity. Jordan could take the whole team on his back and win. He never cried about help, ie. Lebron's statement of going back to the Cleveland Days. Really!?!?!? Check Lebron's last series with the Celtic's, when Lebron was a Cavalier. Jordan would rise above the competition and drop 40, 50, 60 points and then would come back down the court and play Defense. Not just Defense, but man-up defense. He was so much more then a leader then most players today, because he held his team accountable. He did whatever it took to win. He never had to throw anybody under the bus, he would "Just do it!!!!!"

ShakeNBlake
ShakeNBlake

@Play6maker  

 Please. You got a link for all these 5 for 27 (6 turnover) games by MJ? That's what I thought. MJ was more dominant, PERIOD. Anyone who says otherwise never saw MJ play or like you, they hate him because he repeatedly roasted your team for 10+ years. Get over it. Btw, when I think of Zo I think of the Hornets not the Heat...LOL.

riley8
riley8

@Play6maker No player EVER was anything without a supporting cast if we are talking championships.  Today's game has absolutely no defense.  Back in the 80's and 90's there were no uncontested layups...you found yourself on the floor.  A guy like Rodman would have rattled Lebron all night.  Put MJ in today's game and he would average 40 every season.

Felomino
Felomino

@Play6maker

 Can you pls. tell who has higher FG%? Jordan or Lebron? according to ESPN both FG% were almost the same. Get my point? MJ only edged Lebron by 2 more attempt per game but managed to lead a bit in FG%. MJ average a career of 0.497% while Lebron currently has 0.490% according to ESPN stats..... Both has the same effect on the court attracting defense & filling stats sheets.... & may I just correct you Lebron turn overs the ball more, 3.3 times per game against 2.7 turn overs of MJ per game.... Considering LBJ has assists  more than MJ 3.3 turn overs per game is not bad at all.... Sorry to tell you, ball hog is not appropriate to call MJ, he has to to have the ball more to dictate the tempo, and making their opponent play the way they play.... like LBJ, if your his coach don't you want him to have the ball more than other Heat players? Come on' thats basketball you have to learn how to read every bit of what's going on... & greatness is measured by those who knows you better like Rodman his been in the NBA for at least 14 seasons he also experienced defending MJ and defending anyone form PG's  to Center's 

manodenada
manodenada

@GuilhermeNiciunovas And rings.  And balls.  The (hype) King will always have more finals losses though, and he's adding to that number...

zuko
zuko

@ITATTRACTS Just imagine if Lebron would drive against Laimbeer? Ouch! Or against Barkley, or Malone, or Oakley...

RaptorFan
RaptorFan

@ITATTRACTSThe thing is you can't compare the two era's due to change of rules. If Lebron played in the previous era, I wouldn't go far as say he'd be average but he'd be a lesser star. HOWEVER. This applies to Jordan in this era as well. Jordan played very aggressively and tended to push off his defender when taking a jump shot or fade away. In today's NBA, Jordan would be in foul trouble early in most games and thus could not be as competitive and dominant as he was then. All in all it is safe to say both are the greatest player of their respective era's but would be less dominant in the other's era.

thegreatIgnarus
thegreatIgnarus

@6marK6 *shrug* It's mostly just a matter of trying to talk about people casual sports fans have heard of, regardless of who would make for more apt comparisons. 

Mr. J
Mr. J

@6marK6 Well why are you constantly on here making comments about basketball why don't you worry about women's tennis...you could probably relate a little better.  .Clear!

RG3bKillinem
RG3bKillinem

Brianjm26 you are an idiot. Basketball is a team sport, and one person cannot win or lose a playoff game. You wanna say the 2013 Heat couldn't compare to the 90s Bulls? That makes more sense... Oh and Lebron is the greatest player in the game right now, we will never know what would happen if he played Jordan in his prime, so why try and act as if you know something? Only makes you look ignorant

JumpBallBlog
JumpBallBlog

@P0is0nedKoolA1 @Play6maker Kobe without Shaq = 2

Shaq without Kobe = 1 

and no Jordan had the league on his side. if he missed they would just blow the whistle anyway. 

RG3bKillinem
RG3bKillinem

Do you even watch basketball? Rodman was not anywhere near the athlete James is now. maybe when he was a rookie LBJ may have been rattled by Rodman. But not now bro

6marK6
6marK6

@Mr. J @6marK6I prefer relating to your wife. She complains that you leave her wanting more. You just shout out "Michael, Michael" and pop in ten seconds.

Theo
Theo

@adamhightops @brianjm26 You guys all get it! I wish I never had to read another message board after finding this group . . . sadly I have to keep going. You know there may be more of us!

vg052t
vg052t

@RG3bKillinemDid you even watch the NBA in the late 80s and early 90s? Rodman could guard the 3, 4, and even a 5 (like Shaq).  a 29 year old Rodman (with 90s NBA rules) would destroy Lebron physically and mentally.