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Dennis Rodman, Reggie Miller stir up Hall of Fame debate

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Dennis Rodman fans should pray hard that he doesn’t do something stupid between now and the NCAA Final Four that would keep him from making the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

During Final Four weekend in Houston, the official inductees will be announced before being enshrined Aug. 11-13.

Rodman joins former Bulls coaches Tex Winter and Dick Motta, Chicago native Maurice Cheeks and eight others as finalists. After another round of voting by the Honors Committee, we’ll know if Rodman makes it. He must get 18 of 24 votes.

The other finalists are players Jamaal Wilkes, Chris Mullin and Ralph Sampson, college coach Herb Magee, college referee Hank Nichols, Golden State Warriors executive Al Attles, former WNBA star Teresa Edwards and Stanford women’s coach Tara VanDerveer.

The biggest shock, however, is that former Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller was not selected as a finalist, but Rodman made the cut.

“I don’t understand why Reggie Miller isn’t a finalist,” former Bears coach Mike Ditka said. “But it doesn’t matter whether I understand. Reggie Miller was a good all-around player. You take the gown away from the other guy, and he’s just another player. But Rodman played on championship teams, and he played with great players. Maybe that’s why they put you in there. I don’t know.”

Who really does? Secretive Hall of Fame voting is a major knock against the process.

“I’m not surprised that Rodman is a finalist,” TNT analyst Mike Fratello said. “What shocks me is that Reggie isn’t. Reggie stayed in college four years and came into the league with an outstanding work ethic and a tremendous personality. He was a tremendous competitor who represented the NBA with distinction and got to an NBA Finals.

“But Rodman was a great rebounder/defensive specialist who helped some good teams win multiple championships. He deserves it. So while Reggie was a fine leader and one of the NBA’s all-time best three-point shooters, obviously, what this comes down to is championships.”

Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen said Rodman has ‘‘more hardware’’ than the three championship rings he won with the Bulls and the two others he won with the Detroit Pistons.

“Dennis won seven straight rebounding titles plus two defensive player of the year awards,” Pippen said. “Having played with him on three championship teams, including the team that won an NBA-record 72 games, he ranks among the game’s elite players of all time. He was our best front-line defender who consistently dominated players who were much bigger.”

Though one doesn’t have to worry about the 89-year-old Winter, Cheeks or any of the other candidates doing something disgraceful to hurt their chances, you can never tell with Rodman.

Is this the same heavily tattooed and pierced Rodman who has lived his life on the wild side? Is he the same narcissistic exhibitionist who dressed like a woman (and a beautiful one, at that) for one of his book signings? Is this the same Rodman who got sued for kicking a photographer in the groin?

Let’s hope not.

“I’m shocked that Reggie was not [a finalist], and any NBA player that played with Reggie would be surprised by that, too,” Bulls TV analyst Stacey King said. “He was a superstar player who hit timeless big shots. And he was the best three-point shooter of all time until Ray Allen passed him. Reggie should’ve been a finalist.

“As for Dennis Rodman, if you don’t look at his on-court antics and if you don’t look at his off-court problems, but are judging him purely on basketball talent, yeah, he should be a Hall of Famer. What he did at his size during a time when the game was dominated by big guys is simply incredible. He was the best rebounder for a decade.”

It all depends on who’s doing the voting.

“How can you not reward somebody who was both a great rebounder and a great defender as opposed to rewarding people just for scoring points?” Fratello said.

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