Dennis Rodman has done a lot in his life. He’s dominated basketball, been linked to epic women, got married unconventionally and has found a lot of trouble. You can call him a lot of names, but boring isn’t one of them.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey Rodman starred in the NBA, finishing with almost 12,000 rebounds, two NBA Defensive Player Of The Year Awards and five NBA championships (two with Pistons, three with Bulls). He even wrote a memoir titled Bad As I Wanna Be and co-starred in a film with Jean-Claude Van Damme. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. Yeah, he had quite a career. You can say that again.
He has shocked us in so many ways it was hard to come up with a finite list. I settled on 16 which means some were left off. Did you know Rodman had his own brand of vodka? Of course he did, it was launched in 2013 and named “Bad Boy Vodka.”
This list is all over the place (again, not boring) and includes women, television and violence. Here are 16 shocking facts about basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman.
16. Appeared In The Flesh
In the introduction I mentioned the disappointing finish to Rodman’s career that did not end with him nude on a basketball court. However, in 2005 he got to get naked for PETA. An animal rights activist, Rodman appeared in a naked spread for the anti-fur “Ink Not Mink” campaign shot in 2005. I know, Dennis Rodman often painted as Mr. Evil was an avid animal rights activist. It’s okay; take a moment to digest this information. Okay, ready to continue?
How long do you think it took Rodman to get naked, five seconds? I’m guessing the photographers were huddled, discussing what would be the best scene to shoot an NBA legend in and when they turned around he was standing in his birthday suit. Just a guess, but Rodman doesn’t seem like the shy type. I’m sure every marketing or advertising bit he did it was prefaced with “so can I get naked?”
15. Dated Madonna
Madonna dated lots of celebrities so this wasn’t fertile ground. She was with Sean Penn and even Vanilla Ice so it’s little surprise her and Rodman were an item for a while. I’m not sure what ended the relationship, but I like to think it was anytime they were in a club Rodman would enter a karaoke contest and sing her songs. Seems like a Rodman thing.
I was in my twenties when I first visited California. It was for work and I found myself having lunch at an outdoor restaurant in Newport Beach. Dennis Rodman shows up which is crazy because I never notice celebrities. It’s hard to not recognize Rodman. He had a club sandwich and a beer, but it wasn’t the wait staff that served him, but rather two (yes, two) lady friends that served him. I guess my point is that Rodman had a way with the ladies and I witnessed this first hand.
14. Was Nicknamed “The Worm”
Nicknames are weird thing. Sometimes is based on what you do or how you do something, it’s not a defined process. For Rodman, receiving the nickname “the worm” was pretty simple. I guess maybe it was the way he wiggled to get rebounds, but I don’t think so, he is “the worm.” Granted he’s a ripped worm that is an amazing athlete, but nonetheless, he is totally the worm. Well done, nickname police!
In High School for a brief time I had the nickname “chip” and I don’t know why. Did I look like a chipmunk? Do I still look like a chipmunk? Obviously I never let it get to me. Tell me I don’t look like a chipmunk! Anyway, it’s rare to see a nickname that just fits like “the worm” and Dennis Rodman.
13. Has Appeared On Reality Shows
Rodman has a history of alcohol problems (now that I think of it, it was a pretty early lunch at Newport Beach) and this carried over into both of the reality shows he appeared in. Obviously Celebrity Rehab was directly related to his abuse of drink and showed a vulnerable Rodman trying to kick the liquid and resume his basketball career. Off and on Rodman has appeared to keep his liquor under control, but being in the spotlight I’m sure hasn’t helped.
For anyone that appeared on Celebrity Apprentice it’s weird now, right? I mean in a couple of months it’s going to be President Trump. For Rodman, during the show he again struggled with drinking which ultimately led to his being fired by Mr. President-elect. In hindsight it now seems a little better to be fired by a future President, I think, I don’t know. Now I need a drink…
12. Grabbed 34 Rebounds In One Game
Dennis Rodman is the best rebounder the NBA has ever seen and this still holds up today. One night in 1992 he ripped down 34 rebounds in one game. This bears repeating: 34 rebounds in one game! No one night after night consistently ripped down rebounds, a key statistic that helped his teams be successful. Rodman had a sixth sense, seriously, when it came to getting rebounds. Somehow he just knew where the ball would bounce and he was there. He wasn’t the tallest or strongest, he was just the best.
He was so good that Michael Jordan (and Phil Jackson) recruited him to be part of the Chicago Bulls. This was a big deal given his past shenanigans and off court distractions. He was also an amazing defender, always tasked with guarding the best player and locking him down, something he also did consistently well. Along with Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Rodman was a key contributor to three NBA titles.
11. Attempted a Comeback at 45
Always in shape, even in the later years of his career, Rodman tried to make a comeback to the NBA at the age of 45. He did it by playing in the ABA development league in 2003. I’m guessing all games he played were sold out and I’m also guessing no other games have ever been sold out.
I like to think the motivation behind the comeback was the opportunity to come back to the NBA and play his final game naked. Yeah, I have issues. Of course we know how this ended – he never made it back, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. It’s probably for the best, since remembering Rodman as the rebound master is better than him struggling.
10. Worked as a Janitor
Rodman was known as a hard hat, the lunch bucket type player always doing the dirty work on the court. He did the rebounding, played defense and was always the first on the floor if there was a loose ball. He was a big part of the Detroit Piston “bad boys” for a reason. This was a group of blue collar basketball players taking on the star-laden Los Angele Lakers and Boston Celtics. Bonus: Rodman never backed down from a fight. It doesn’t get more “hard hat, lunch bucket” than that.
At the age of 19, Rodman was actually a blue-collar guy, working as a janitor at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Anyone else picture a passenger sitting in the boarding area reading the paper, finishing and then tossing it to the receptacle only to miss and janitor Rodman catching it before reaching the ground? No, okay I guess I only fantasize about a young rebounding Rodman at the airport.
9. Kicked Cameraman and Head-butted a Referee
In 1996 Rodman was ejected from a game for head-butting a ref. I mean, I’m sure lots of players have wanted to do this, but his is a total no-no. In addition to the head-butt Rodman continued his tantrum by ripping his jersey right off his body and then proceeding to kick over coolers. What did Michael Jordan say to him after? I’m guessing it was something like “Dennis, I know you got to be you, but I’m Michael Jordan, got it?”
In 1997 Rodman took out his frustration on a cameraman. After landing on the floor a camera was right in his face. Instead of pushing the camera out of his face Rodman went right to the source and kicked the guy in the balls.
8. Joined Professional Wrestling
In 1997 Rodman was suspended by the NBA. So he had a couple of options. The first and probably most discussed was laying low and waiting out the suspension. The other was throw himself in the public eye. Dennis being Dennis opted for the latter, appearing as a wrestler on WCW’s Monday Nitro as well as subsequent appearances. He even got to wrestle Hulkamania himself, Hulk Hogan. No word on whether Hogan advised Rodman to take his vitamins.
It’s no surprise that Rodman was a technically sound wrestler, but he still attracted a lot of attention. At this point of his career Rodman could go to the grocery store and create a stir. What does Rodman buy at the grocery store? During this time I picture lots of fruit and vegetables, and liquor. He might even linger in the cereal aisle, dreaming of being on a Wheaties box. Oh wait, he was on a Wheaties box as a member of the Detroit Pistons. Man, Rodman has really done it all.
7. Said Larry Bird Was Overrated
In 1987 Dennis Rodman stated that Larry Bird was overrated because he was white and that’s why he won three MVP awards. We all know Dennis Rodman as the guy to not pull any punches, but what’s important to remember is that this was 1987 a time when a lot of people didn’t speak so candidly. Now, the case of Larry Bird probably was not accurate, Bird really deserved the accolades he got, he was pretty good.
Of course this was just the start for Rodman who continued to speak his mind throughout his career. Few had more reporters glued to their responses as Rodman did because no one knew what he would say next. Would Dennis curse, was he going to call out the referees (again), or would he call out a teammate? No one had any idea what would come out of his mouth. Rodman was really ahead of the whole “branding” scene and knew how to sell his personality.
6. A Pearl Jam Super Fan
He has stated that whenever he did anything he was jamming to Pearl Jam. Which songs did he really like? I don’t know, but can surmise that he was a big fan of “Once,” “Go” and “Animal,” among others. He has even jumped on stage during live Pearl Jam shows.
Given he played with Michael Jordan, I wonder what he was listening to? Was Michael into hip hop, show tunes or was it complete silence? I bet it was complete silence, seems like the Jordan way. I also like to think that Rodman tried to push Pearl Jam on Jordan, but Michael just laughed him off.
5. Dennis Rodman, Children’s Book Writer
In 2012 Rodman co-wrote a children’s book named Dennis The Wild Bull with fellow author Dustin Warburton. The message of the book was to let children know it is okay to be different. The book was dedicated to his children and the description (on Amazon) says “we hope it comes with temporary tattoos.”
I have not read the book (surprising, I know), but I’m guessing it’s about a bull that doesn’t fit in with the other bulls, but still is a key piece of their group. It sounds like a good message for children and to my knowledge there isn’t any nudity which is a good start for a children’s book.
4. “Hung Out” With North Korea’s Kim Jong-un
Man, Dennis Rodman is so full of conflict. Consider the whole Celebrity Apprentice–President Trump thing and the fact that Rodman visited North Korea’s evil dictator. It’s so strange, as if this was a reality show. It wasn’t and somehow it seemed legit. I don’t even know what to say about this. I don’t think it’s right, but then, I don’t really know.
What if…now hear me out. President-elect, Donald Trump, appoints Dennis Rodman as a foreign affairs ambassador. He goes from country to country, reviews videos of classic NBA games (featuring him of course) and creates a positive relationship. He could even play some pick-up games. I’m sure old Rodman can still “D-up” and rip down a few boards. Crazy, right? Okay, I’ve gone too far, don’t hear me out on this. Rodman’s relationship with Kim Jong-un is not good, un-American and even President-elect Trump sees this, I think…
3. Once Broadcasted An Orgy
In 2014 Rodman was a guest of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and found himself in the Hamptons at a party. I mean, anyone else appreciate this event for Rodman? What was next night, BMW wet bikini contest? Apparently he had a microphone and made many “drunk” announcement and forgot to kill the mic before he retreated to a private area with several women. What was heard was lots of sex sounds, sounds that weren’t just Rodman and one other woman!
2. Almost Committed Suicide
I love bad movies; it’s a problem I know. I remember the when Dennis Rodman’s memoir Bad As I Wanna Be was made into a made for TV movie. It was bad, like really bad. The acting was horrible and in typical made for TV it had no energy. One scene depicted a young Dennis Rodman outside of the Detroit Pistons arena with a rifle in his lap deciding whether or not to kill himself. Levity is always a good thing when dealing with suicide and yes, this was a serious moment in his life, but the scene in the movie was laughable.
1. Got Married, Too Himself
At one point, Rodman stated he was a bisexual and got married, to himself. The best part was that he wore a wedding gown because of course he did! I don’t know all the details, but I like to imagine there was Pearl Jam playing in the background and a large ring of keys somewhere nearby to signify how fare the janitor from the Dallas airport had come.
Dennis Rodman getting married to himself was the perfect symbol of his individualism. Few celebrities and athletes specifically have taken a stand of not giving two cents as Dennis did during his career. Rodman was going to do whatever he wanted and no one was going to get in his way.