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Dennis Rodman NBA Defensive Player of Year

From Associated Press

Forward Dennis Rodman, who helped make the Detroit Pistons the best defensive team in the NBA, today was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, beating out Houston’s Akeem Olajuwon.

Rodman received 49 of a possible 92 votes from a national panel of sports writers and broadcasters--three from each of the NBA’s 27 cities and 11 representing the national media.

Olajuwon finished second with 35 votes. Detroit’s Joe Dumars and Dallas’ Derek Harper each received two votes, while Chicago’s Michael Jordan, New York’s Patrick Ewing, Milwaukee’s Alvin Robertson and Utah’s Mark Eaton got one apiece.

The 6-foot-8 Rodman was one of the league’s top sixth men before becoming a starter for the final 42 games of the season. He averaged only 8.8 points per game, but led the Pistons in rebounding average with 9.7 per game and usually guarded the opposing team’s most dangerous scorer, often at his own request.

Rodman’s defensive tenacity set the tone for the Pistons, who allowed only 98.3 points per game, lowest figure in the NBA.

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“As a starter, I think I add some intensity,” said Rodman, selected to play in the All-Star Game this season for the first time and chosen to the NBA All-Defensive first team last season.

“My defense is more important than anything. I don’t like scoring because to me it’s not exciting. I just love defense so much that it’s like a burning desire that keeps me going.

“When you’re a scorer, you take pride in leading the league in scoring. I’m a defender, so this is the biggest tribute you could pay to a player like me.”

Olajuwon led the NBA in rebounding for the second straight season and in blocked shots. He also ranked eighth in steals.

Rodman was outspoken and bitter last year when Utah’s Mark Eaton won the award.

“I said I was going to work harder this year, and it’s worked out,” Rodman said following today’s practice session.

Then, tears running down his cheeks, Rodman’s voice broke up.

“I wanted this award so bad,” he sobbed.


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