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Rodman says if LeBron played in the early 1990s “he’d be just an average player”

Jun 7, 2013, 11:37 AM EDT

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

That is Dennis Rodman, talking about comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan.

“If Michael played today … really? If he played the game today at 28 years old, he would average 40 points a game, probably more….

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

First off, that’s what we as fans do. We compare the greats of different eras, even though we know that it is inherently unfair to do so. Is LeBron greater in his era then Jordan in his? No. Or to be fair not yet as LeBron is 28, but LeBron will never be the cultural icon that Jordan was because MJ was the perfect storm of the right player at the right time for growing the game. But did Jordan change the game as much as Magic Johnson? Were either of them really greater in their era than Bill Russell in his?

These are barstool debates with no real answer. It’s fun to discuss, but it’s a meaningless hypothetical.

What I think is fair to say — LeBron in the 1990s would have been a great player. LeBron in any era would have been a great player. How great is up for debate, but he would not have been average. That’s overselling it.

Here is the first half of the Rodman interview, where he is at his most Rodman.

119 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. dbones750 - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, get out of here worm

  2. bigwii - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    He’s not MJ never will be. Statistically his stats are ALMOST IDENTICAL to Larry Bird NOT MJ. Look it up just saying. I’m not a LeBron fan and he brought all this on himself.

    All that “chosen one,” and “next Jordan” stuff. The Decision and all the dumb stuff he’s said over the past few years he brought it on it’d not like he’s a victim.

    He’s his own player no one else you can’t really compare him anyway to the players of old. If he played back then as good as he is he wouldn’t have been able to flop and all that.

    People like Barkley would play physical with him and it wouldn’t be like now where if he drives its a foul or a basket. He would have a way tougher time.

    He would be good but not great like he is now.

  3. jimeejohnson - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    LeBron would have been in the upper echelon in any time period. Only a person blinded by hate and jealousy cannot see this. Notice I don’t say best ever: LeBron hasn’t cemented that legacy, yet.

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:10 PM

      Dennis Rodman is Kim Jung’s buddy because they’re both huge windbags and like spicy food.

  4. cfos00 - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    There’s no way that LeBron would just be another guy. I have no love for him, but the guy can play in any area. All the truly great ones could. He might not be as dominant with the differences in league rules and players, with the 90’s not being nearly as kind to perimeter players as it is now.

    Rodman’s absolutely right that Jordan would have completely destroyed this era’s NBA though. The rules and league have changed a lot, and all of them would have favored his game—no hand checks, no hard fouls, the lack of actual shooting guards (there are what, four or five in the league he wouldn’t see as an insult lining up against him), and the lack of skilled big men that defend like they did in the 90s would all go in his favor. When Roy Hibbert is getting spoken about like he’s the next coming of Mutombo, you know that things have changed down low, and not for the better. Even if that only got Jordan another couple lay ups a game and a few fouls, he’s already over 40 per game if you add it to his average during most of his career. I would set that as a minimum expectation of what he’d do now.

  5. mungman69 - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Dennis is still an idiot.

    • mydoghasfleez - Jun 8, 2013 at 1:32 AM

      And a very good one too!

    • brookwell2013 - Jun 8, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      Rodman is a wack job for sure…….average intelligence on his very best days. His comments about Lebron are ridiculous; Lebron would obviously (love him or hate) been a star player in any era. To say otherwise is just foolish and the people who assert that (i.e., Rodman et al) lose all credibility and are not worth lsitening to.

  6. golfrangeman - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Asimontti88 I don’t know if you were trying to but you just proved my point. There is much more strength training today. Could lambert have gotten bigger if he played today absolutely but he didn’t need to. The game evolves the players evolve that’s not an opinion that’s a fact. If rodman played the same way today as he did in the 90’s he’d foul out or be ejected by have time of every game.

  7. russellbandingo - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    for anyone saying that the players were bigger and stronger in the early 90’s please look into that. average player height is up as well as average player weight is up. players average a quarter of an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier. take out the high aspect, and regardless of size players the way on average 15 pounds more these days, vs the 86 to 88 era where they had taller players on average and still weighed 15 pounds less on average. Dennis Rodman would have been schooled by LeBron. He just has to say whatever he can stay in the media since he is so broke he will show up at your house for $500.

    • louhudson23 - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:20 AM

      If it were a track meet or a weightlifting contest,then this would be of vital importance. But it is basketball. The difference is the rules and interpretations of them. Some who flourished in the rough and tumble earlier days would be lost in today’s game. Some who flourish today would be lost without the quick whistle and soft attitudes of today. The AAU effect is so strongly felt in today’s game. Skills,game craft and straight-up hard nosed determination are generally lacking in those who have risen through the club system. Like Heavyweight boxers,they just don’t make them like that anymore….

  8. realninerfan22 - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    Lbj had trouble against roy hibbert, not to mention he started crying about how physical the bulls were playing him.. Alonzo, hakeem, Patrick Ewing, shaq, players like Charles Barkley, rick.mahorn, I cud go on and on.. Yea players on thw outside are bigger but not big men.. The game is watered down.. This nba is soft and there skill level is below average. All the great scorers in the 80s 90s all had a mid range game, and a postgame.. Thw so callwd best player in todays nba lbj doesn’t even have that in his game yet.. Big men back then played likw big men not guards… Lbj wud jus be average.. He wudent comw to the lane.. players like Anthony mason, and danny fortson wud club him..

  9. deiong - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    I believe this because the 90s had great defenders. there isnt a whole lot of above avg defenders in the nba right now.

    look they had to give defensive player of the year to someone this year because they couldn’t find anyone to give it to. when the couple of above avg defenders of today play decent defense against him, he gets shut down pretty easily.

    this just isn’t a defensive league at all, and in the 90s it was a very defensive league. specially with all the hand checking and stuff. king flops a lot would be in heaven dreaming of all the flops he could obtain. other then that , he wouldn’t offer much else in the 90s. the league doesn’t have that kind of defense any more. sure athletes are better athletically , but he cant play the type of ball they played in the 90s. he’s to delicate to do that.

    • elcapitanfiscal - Jun 8, 2013 at 7:20 PM

      Lebron is delicate? The guy that averages 8 boards a game?

      He crashes the boards hard, drives hard and can take a lot of contact..

      You just dont,notice how much pounding hs takes because he is so big and strong..

      I agree with him whining alot, but come on man you sound ignorant, acting as if the league was really that much brutal in the 90s. If anything he would benefit from that since he is such a physical player and his lack of a good jumpshot

  10. olvera32066 - Jun 8, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    rodman is right…..! the worm would of made this overgrown baby named le bron squirm……

  11. kimlovescats57 - Jun 8, 2013 at 1:19 AM

    If anybody can define an average basketball player it would be Dennis Rodman. If LeBron James was playing basketball in the early 80’s or early 90’s he wouldn’t be an average player he would have been a child. Rodman go back to Korea!

  12. im2gr84u2h8on - Jun 8, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    How good would his buddy Kim Jong Un have done?

  13. bengzki - Jun 8, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    Pippen > Rodman (whether its talent, IQ or credibility) so its up to you who will you believe. But again, anything said bad about LeBron would be cool, amazing, fantastic, hands down great to “most” of the people so everyone knows where this would end.

    “Hate eats intelligence.”

  14. pnoy88 - Jun 8, 2013 at 2:26 AM

    Anthony mason will put Bron-bron’s ass to the ground!!!

  15. kanemoney - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    This comment was meant for Bosh, not Lebron. With how soft Bosh plays, he wouldn’t play past his rookie contract in the 90s.

    LBJ is a beast – he’d be just fine.

    • aymatthews236 - Jun 8, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      I wholeheartedly agree – he needs to be on the bench!

  16. pukpokito - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:29 AM

    Mr.Rodman.You would have loved to have LeBron as your teammate.So will Mr.Jordan and Mr.Pippen. Mr.Rodman will get touches with the way LeBron gets everyone involved.

  17. erikfootball92 - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:33 AM

    Rodman is a clown. he is using this to bring attention to himself. he knows damn well that defensive schemes, offensive schemes and players in general have become better. If anything Jordan would have a problem coming into todays game. Not putting him down for what he did but players today as a whole are all around better. u won’t see wilt comin in a game today averaging 50 a game. his ass would get shut down. I respect kobes 81 more than wilts high scoring game. And I respect the best players nowadays more than I respect the oldschool players.lRodman gets no respect for saying this at all. he’s probably getting payed for saying it tho…. like I said he’s a clown

  18. valt2013 - Jun 8, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Here’s my 2 sense worth! JL is surrounded with other great team mates, MJ made everyone around him better! JL complains about every little file, MJ just played ball! MJ is by far a much better athlete regardless of era!

  19. kingcrusher - Jun 8, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Pointless but fun conversations. Yes, back in those days he would have found himself among some of the all time greats and would have had it a little tougher. But, he still would have been great. Much like Dominique Wilkins. What an amazingly athletic and gifted athlete, but he certainly found himself outmatched at every turn. Was he still great? Heck yes!

    Man, I would love to see Lebron back in time. But we’ll never see it. Do I think he’s the best? No. Do I think he’s better than Bird, Magic, or MJ? Heck, no. But I do think he’s amazing. He’s flat out awesome, and is simply the best player playing today. Not taking anything away from the guy, but Rodman is probably correct. He could have worded it a little better, but he’s probably right.

  20. aymatthews236 - Jun 8, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Please Rodman is an idiot! LBJ is better than MJ because he makes his teammates better! He isn’t a selfish player like MJ was! Rodman go still your head in the sand – no one cares what you think anyway!

  21. lemfaxx - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    I like rodman as a defender & rebounder. But not a commentator or anything else

  22. ndrick731 - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    James needs to get together with Cindy Crysby and travel the world on a diving exhibition and whining tour.

  23. mannyfresh209 - Jun 10, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    Rodman…playa….6’8 270 lbs pure muscle. I’m sure LeBron would have been MORE than fine in the 80’s/90’s. Now, if you take YOU guys and insert YOU guys in to the 21st century basketball league….you’d be suspended every other game for elbowing people intentionally. You CANNOT play defense the same way you could back then, so you’d foul out all the time and get flagrant fouls every game.

    it works both ways. rodman go kick it in korea some more you imbecile

  24. spankygreen - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Thus sayeth the man (jury still out) that wears a dress and makeup. And most certainly the not so sharpest tool in the box….when you are no longer relevant the quickest way to gain any semblance of chatter is to say the stupidest thing possible. congrats worm!!!!

  25. lawrinson20 - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    Rodman has never been known for his intelligence, however, he did figure out a way to sleep with Carmen Electra for a number of years, so his brain does serve SOME purpose.

    However… he seems not to understand the very words he uses. “Average,” for one.

    John Starks was a better than average player in the era. No one on the planet would dispute that James is a better player than Starks. Secondly, “average” means the middle of the pack. Like a 100 IQ. If Rodman had a 100 IQ, there would be no article to discuss, but…. So, if Lebron would have been only average, Rodman should be able to name 200-ish players IN EACH GIVEN YEAR that were better than James. Take 1995. There weren’t TEN players working in 1995 that any GM would want over James.

    The argument about James not being able to deal with the more physical play back then… ridiculous. Every player deals with the conditions he’s dealt. Michael whined back then. James whines now. Either would only know what he was used to.

    Ignoring all of the above: i still despise Lebron. Not for any perceived ‘Cleveland Treachery.’ But, because he’s a douchebag. But, let’s be objective about his skills and “talents.” And, if Rodman didn’t play with MJ, he would have been Kenneth Faried with a personality disorder.

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