I still couldn’t guard his a**” – Dennis Rodman once revealed who was his toughest opponent to defend

“I still couldn’t guard his a**” – Dennis Rodman once revealed who was his toughest opponent to defend

There’s no question that Dennis Rodman is one of the best defenders in NBA history. He won the Defensive Player of the Year award twice, and it’s fair to say that Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls wouldn’t have solidified their golden dynasty without him. Rodman was a beast inside the paint, a rebounding machine, and perennial shot blocker. But that doesn’t mean he could stop every single player.

In fact, The Worm even admitted that it was James Worthy who gave him the most problems during his time as he admitted that he had trouble stopping the Los Angeles Laker from scoring inside the paint.

Worthy’s physique was unique

Worthy’s impact on the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers was just as vital as Rodman’s with the Bulls. Without Big Game James’ services, Magic Johnson and the Lakers wouldn’t have three championships. There’s a reason why the late great Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss did everything to make ends meet by trading for the rights to acquire the University of North Carolina standout in the 1979 NBA Draft.

Aside from being a durable and reliable piece especially come Playoff time, Worthy was a physical big who averaged 21.5 points and 5.3 rebounds on 56.9% shooting from the field during his peak years. He was a problem for the opposing team’s defense who also had to keep their eyes on Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Just ask Rodman, who admitted that despite being the same height as Worthy, he couldn’t figure out how to stop the Hall-of-Famer inside the paint.

Usually, the guys I defended were bigger than me,” Rodman said as published in Sports Illustrated. “But Worthy matched up height-wise, and I still couldn’t guard his a**. He’d come off a screen, and I’d try to see if he was going over the top or underneath. Next thing I knew, he was at the rim.”

Rodman’s high praises for Worthy speaks volumes

The Lakers’ Showtime era will always and rightfully be associated with Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar because they were the team’s best players. But it would be disingenuous not to credit the role players around them, especially the likes of Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes, Byron Scott, and Michael Cooper led by Pat Riley. 

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