If you were to list the dozen most despised villains in the history of Boston sports, you'd have to save room for several members of the late '80s-early '90s Detroit Pistons. It's not an exaggeration to say that team in that era was the focus of evil in the universe. Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn - whom Johnny Most used to call "McFilthy and McNasty" - make the list for sure. But there has to be a special place of dishonor for Dennis Rodman, whom that other legendary wordsmith Danny Ainge nicknamed "The Worm."
Seeing Rodman evolve from a vicious, elbow-throwing, ankle-breaking instigator into America's beloved crazy uncle as the '90s went on was absolutely insufferable. What it would've been like for a British soldier in the 1800s if they started putting up statues of Napoleon all around London. We didn't watch the Celtics rip the hearts out of the Pistons Crime Family:
… just to see the Celtcs get old, Rodman win five rings with Detroit and Chicago, and become the darling of the awards show and talk show circuit. But that's the reality we find ourselves in. American culture chose to embrace one of the dirtiest players in NBA history. After three decades (and counting) you get used to it.
What none of us can tolerate from Rodman is this. The Worm was shown a video of Gilbert Arenas - clearly a brilliant, insightful and moral gentleman - saying that Larry Bird would beat LeBron James in a game of 1-on-1. And responded:
"I'll put it this way. If Larry Bird played in this era, I think he'd be in Europe."
I thought I'd learned to coexist with this Dennis Rodman. That I found it in my heart of unlimited generosity to tolerate his inexplicable popularity. But this is where I draw the line. This far. No further.
I can handle it when someone disrespects me, my country, my faith, my values. But I will not tolerate this blasphemy. You put respect in this man's name. To borrow a phrase from the late, great Merle Haggard, when they're runnin' down Larry Bird, man/ They're walkin' on the fightin' side o' me.
Sure, I could point out the flaws in Rodman's logic. I refute his points. Cite all the evidence to the contrary. But it would be like trying to disprove the theories of a Flat Earther. Why bother conversing with someone who's being willfully ignorant when you can say nothing and just point at the evidence?
Larry Bird highlights:
Larry Bird passing highlights:
Larry Bird 3-pointer highlights:
And just for laughs, Larry Bird putting up 47 points and a triple-double on Portland using his left hand because he was saving his right hand for the Lakers:
If Bird of his prime would be playing in Europe today, then the entire NBA Hall of Fame would be playing in Europe. And Dennis Rodman would be playing in some European D-League. But the fact of the matter is, the only league Larry Bird couldn't succeed in exists only in heaven. And someday he'll be the MVP of that one, too. Now go away, Rodman.