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YouTube Gold: James Worthy Names His Toughest Opponent

And it’s probably not who you think

1988 NBA Finals: Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers
 LOS ANGELES, CA - 1988: James Worthy #42 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Dennis Rodman #10 of the Detroit Pistons during the 1988 NBA Finals at The Forum in Los Angeles, California. 
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

When you think about James Worthy’s Hall of Fame career, he played against some of the very best players in the history of professional basketball. Just for a few examples: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Charles Oakley, Horace Grant, Dominique Wilkins, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale, to name a few.

At one point, he said that playing Bird was more difficult than playing Jordan because Bird was more unpredictable.

But when he was asked who he would pick as the toughest opponent he had during his time in the NBA, he picked none of the players just mentioned. So who did he pick?

Dennis Rodman.

Rodman’s brilliance was overshadowed by his intentional weirdness, something he perhaps picked up from Madonna when they dated. Madonna was a master at generating publicity through her outlandish behavior and soon Rodman was as well.

It’s a shame in a way because it overshadowed his brilliance as a basketball player. This is a guy who could handle Bird or Shaquille O’ Neal. He drove his opponents crazy because he was supremely talented, but also a tremendous student who noticed everything about opponents.

It’s a nice tribute from one truly great player to another. Rodman was so unique that we may never see anyone like him again.