Gilbert Arenas Believes Dennis Rodman Could Not Stop LeBron James

Published 03/29/2021, 7:35 AM EDT
Mar 18, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) moves the ball against the Charlotte Hornets during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


LeBron James is often derided for playing in the modern-day NBA. While James is one of the most gifted specimens in the NBA, people believe that he plays in a more lenient era of the league. Compared to the 90s, the modern game is a lot less physical, which is why people believe LeBron James thrives during this era. But one former All-Star has now come to the King’s defense.

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Gilbert Arenas defends LeBron James over Dennis Rodman

Former NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas spoke recently about the modern-day NBA game. He believes that Dennis Rodman, oft considered the best defender of all-time, would not have been able to stop LeBron James. Rodman doesn’t know how to defend a guard like James who makes his way to the basket. Rodman relied on brute strength, which wouldn’t affect James’ style of play.

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Feb 24, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dunks the ball over Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) during the second quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
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Arenas said, “Dennis Rodman, a 6’7, 210-pound guy, wouldn’t be stopping LeBron James. Let it go… He’s a point guard. You were great at defending people whose back is to the basket. He’s going downhill. Your brute strength has no bearing on downhill guards… The defensive guards back in the day, you get the hand check.”

Arenas gives modern NBA advantage over 90s era

Arenas expanded the argument to note that the hand check, a staple of 90s basketball defense, would not work today. Unlike the 90s, the guards of today are not focused on play-making entirely. In the 90s, the guards had one primary objective – to create a play, most often for their big men. But now, the guards are more versatile and mobile, making them harder to guard.

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Arenas added, “Well, the hand check worked because the guard wasn’t scoring, he was a set-up guy. So he’s sitting there with his back to the basket trying to get this offense, get it to the big man down low. So it’s easy to just you know hand check a guy who’s not moving anywhere.”

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Who would win in a match-up between Dennis Rodman and LeBron James? Many consider Rodman to be the greatest defender in NBA history. However, LeBron James is a freak of nature, a scary combination of size, speed, strength, and incredible basketball intelligence. The numbers he has put up in his career have shown he is one of the greatest attacking players ever.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1149 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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