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The Sunday Sermon: The Grind Never Stops, and Dennis Rodman Is Living Proof

Welcome to week 2 of the Sunday Sermon, I'll be your preacher, and the subject of today's Sermon Atop Mount Barstool is ... the grind. 

Ever since quarantine began, my home is my office and my office is... my kitchen counter. I actually went and bought a counter stool for the purpose of blogging and blogging alone. The days run together. Weekends? They don't exist. It's Groundhog Day and we're all Bill Murray.

I understand inertia. I fight it every damn day. So when we got told it was Work from Home, and further, Dave lit a fire under everyone at Barstool, I made it my goal to take this challenge as an opportunity to step up and work as hard as I possibly could. As a result, I haven't taken a true day off since this whole thing started and I plan to keep it that way. 

[Trysta, please cry me a river...] 

Listen, I get that blogging and making videos for the internet isn't exactly anyone's definition of "labor". I understand how many people say they would do anything to work at a place like Barstool. No one should feel bad for me. I am completely living my dream. I don't slave away in the coal mines, work on a production line or, shit, even flip burgers at a fast-food restaurant, but you know what, to get here... I fucking GRINDED. I left an extremely safe and well-paid job to pursue... this. At the time, I didn't even know what "this" was. 

Before that, everyone (even my normally supportive mother) in my life thought I was a TOTAL IDIOT when I left finance and worked as a sideline reporter for a D3 school, for FREE. They tried to stop me.

YEAH, you heard that right. I left a safe and secure finance job to WORK FOR FREE. 

Every day I went to practice during training camp, then went home for a few hours to film myself practicing fake sideline reports (using a hairbrush as a microphone) never repeating the same one because I'd never have a second chance live on-air, then went back to their second practice, hoping to gain some level of insight to use that Saturday. 

I had NO idea what I was doing. I had no idea if this would lead anywhere (it did). But I did know I wanted it. I wanted it so much that I worked three other jobs in addition to that one and eventually mustered up the strength to pack my bags and move to L.A. with no media job prospects in sight. 

YIKES. 

It took me a total of five years from that unpaid gig on the sidelines to actually get a break. To get a job in media that paid enough for me to quit caddying, selling Herbalife, and working as a juice bar barista. 

Five years of the grind. 

Given my own dedication to the grind, or like Carrabis says, "being married to the game", I have a special place in my heart for grinders. It was one of the things I first noticed about Erika, Dave, and Dan when I walked in the door. They're ALL grinders. 

Which is why as I sit here watching The Last Dance on Dennis Rodman, I'm simultaneously typing this out, because I'll be damned if this man isn't the greatest grinder in the history of the NBA. I mean, it's simply incredible just how hard this man worked. 

The documentary covers his background well -- that was 5'11" when he graduated from high school, where he tried (and failed) to make the high school team FOUR TIMES. Of course he grew seven inches in one year, played JUCO, and caught the attention of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where he utilized the same motor, drive, and grind to catch the eye of NBA scouts. Drafted by the Pistons and Chuck Daly, he became a central figure on one of the most hated yet successful dynasties in NBA history.

It's easy to overlook how good Rodman was because his off-court antics, so much highlighted in the doc, often overshadowed his on court play (which was incredible). But just a brief look at his stats shows that he might have been the most underrated player in NBA history.

We know Rodman was an elite defender and rebounder. Just how elite was he? 

Rebound Percentage is a stat that measures how effective a player is at gaining possession of the basketball after a missed field goal or free throw. Dennis Rodman dominates the NBA Rebounding Percentage more than anyone dominates any other major NBA stat. Rodman owns 7 of the top 10 Rebound Percentage seasons (4 of the top 5) in NBA history. 

WUT

What this means is that Rodman was better at what he did (rebound) than any player in the history of the NBA was at what THEY did. Statistical models show that a player of that skill should show up once every 400 years 

Rodman was THAT rare. 

Consider this, all of the other top rebounders in NBA history were 6'10 or taller. 

How Sway?

According to the documentary Rodman used mental skill to become such an unbelievably elite rebounder. He studied so much film he knew how every shooter shot the ball and how much spin there was on it and where it would come off the rim depending on where they shot it. 

GENIUS level basketball IQ

The wildest thing? Rodman's stats show virtually no trade-off between offensive and defensive rebounding rates.  

That is ridiculous. 

That means he knew ALL of his OPPONENTS shot (and miss) tendencies as well as he knew his own teammates. He memorized every single shooting tendency in the league. 

We talk about the benefits of “staying in our own lane” and no one exemplified that quite like Rodman. 

When he was inducted in 2011, Rodman was simultaneously the worst scorer and the best rebounder in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He didn’t care about scoring. He knew his role, and he did it better than everyone else. 

We know he made his bread and butter as a rebounder, but he also is considered one of the best defenders to ever play the game. 

BEFORE he joined the Chicago Bulls in 1995-1996, Dennis Rodman made the NBA All-Defensive 1st (7x), 2nd (1x), or 3rd (2x) team every year except his rookie season, and was NBA Defensive Player of the Year twice. 

I once asked Kawhi Leonard (another guy with serious clamps) about what it takes to be a great defender. 

“ [What matters is] just wanting to do it I guess. Moving feet, wanting to play defense. That's what makes you a good defender. Just wanting to be able to do it. Locking in. Wanting to make stops. ” 

For clarity I asked  “Are you saying that effort is the key piece to what makes a good defender?”

"Yeah. For sure." 

I think if I asked Dennis Rodman about rebounding he might say some version of the same thing. A man who was cut 4 times from his high school basketball team, a man who was forced to sleep outside in a neighbor’s backyard, never allowed his circumstance to keep him from the grind.

And unless you have generational talent that allows success to be effortless, consistently grinding is what it’s going to take to excel. 

There’s a saying that fits this perfectly. It’s on the tip of my tongue. Oh yes. 

The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.