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Dennis Rodman puts on show at Hall, but Tex Winter night’s real star

Dennis Rodman becomes emotional during his address for his Basketball Hall Fame enshrinement ceremony Springfield Mass. Friday Aug. 12 2011.

Dennis Rodman becomes emotional during his address for his Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement at a ceremony in Springfield, Mass., Friday, Aug. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

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Updated: November 16, 2011 1:25AM



SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Dennis Rodman entertained, but Tex Winter inspired Friday night during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Rodman was the main attraction in terms of fashion and emotion. He was the only honoree who went through a costume change.

He arrived wearing a silver suit, a silver scarf, a black feather boa and a black cowboy hat.

But when he came to the podium to speak, he had changed into a silver-sequined black suit with Bulls and Pistons emblazoned on it.

Rodman, whose hair was dyed orange and whose pierced nose, lip and ears were decorated with huge silver rings, cried before he spoke, cried during his 15-minute speech and cried afterward.

“I always tried to be an illusion, and a colorful one,” he said. “My one regret is that I never had a father.”

He thanked a long list of people, including his presenter, Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, whom he described as one of his surrogate fathers, and NBA commissioner David Stern “for just letting me into the building.”

As he promised, Rodman gave a pretty clean speech.

But as entertaining as Rodman was closing the show as the 10th honoree, Winter was simply heroic. Just being there was an awesome feat for Winter.

“I’m just happy to be alive,” the 89-year-old former coach said in an interview Thursday. Two years ago, he suffered a stroke.

Winter’s triple-post offense was instrumental in the Bulls’ six championships. He then accompanied Jackson to Los Angeles and helped him win his first three titles with the Lakers.

Winter’s son, Chris, drove him in from Boston and said there were several times in the last two years when “we didn’t even think he’d be alive today. But he has improved enough and said he felt good enough to be here. So here we are.”

Winter has had to learn how to walk and talk all over again.

But the stroke hampers his train of thought and limits him to just a few words before his mind wanders and he becomes incoherent.

“I’m sorry,” Winter would say during his interview when he’d start a sentence, then lose his train of thought.

But Winter has nothing to apologize for.

It’s the Hall voters who should apologize for rejecting him seven times before finally selecting him on his eighth try.

“Tex Winter is one of the all-time teachers of basketball,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. “His triangle offense is still the best offensive system in the history of the game. It’s a shame that his contributions were not recognized by the Hall at a time when he could have better enjoyed the honor.”

Apparently feeling uneasy about his ability to speak, Winter had Chris speak for him.

“My dad never won a championship during his college career,” Chris said. “But he developed championship-caliber teams that took the champions to the limit.’’

Rodman and Artis Gilmore joined Winter and seven others as members of the Class of 2011.



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