Born: May 13, 1961
Place of Birth: Trenton, NJ
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
Dennis Keith Rodman (born May 13, 1961) is an American retired professional basketball player who played for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was nicknamed "The Worm" and is famous for his fierce defensive and rebounding abilities.
Rodman played at the small forward position in his early years before becoming a power forward. He earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times and won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award twice. He also led the NBA in rebounds per game for a record seven consecutive years and won five NBA championships. His biography at NBA.com states that he is "arguably the best rebounding forward in NBA history". On April 1, 2011, the Pistons retired Rodman's No. 10 jersey, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later that year.
Rodman experienced an unhappy childhood and was shy and introverted in his early years. After aborting a suicide attempt in 1993, he reinvented himself as a "bad boy" and became notorious for numerous controversial antics. He repeatedly dyed his hair in artificial colors, had many piercings and tattoos, and regularly disrupted games by clashing with opposing players and officials. He famously wore a wedding dress to promote his 1996 autobiography Bad As I Wanna Be. Rodman pursued a high-profile affair with singer Madonna and was briefly married to actress Carmen Electra. Rodman also attracted international attention for his visits to North Korea and his subsequent befriending of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2013.
In addition to being a retired professional basketball player, Rodman is a retired part-time professional wrestler and actor. He was a member of the nWo and fought alongside Hulk Hogan at two Bash at the Beach events. In professional wrestling, Rodman was the first ever winner of the Celebrity Championship Wrestling tournament. He had his own TV show, The Rodman World Tour, and had lead roles in the action films Double Team (1997) and Simon Sez (1999). Both films were critically panned, with the former earning Rodman a triple Razzie Award. He appeared in several reality TV series and was the winner of the $222,000 main prize of the 2004 edition of Celebrity Mole.
Rodman made himself eligible for the 1986 NBA draft. He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons as the 3rd pick in the second round (27th overall), joining the rugged team of coach Chuck Daly that was called "Bad Boys" for their hard-nosed approach to basketball. The squad featured Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars at the guard positions, Adrian Dantley and Sidney Green at forward, and center Bill Laimbeer. Bench players who played more than 15 minutes per game were sixth man Vinnie Johnson and the backup forwards Rick Mahorn and John Salley. Rodman fit well into this ensemble, providing 6.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and some tough defense in 15.0 minutes of playing time per game.
Winning 52 games, the Pistons comfortably entered the 1987 NBA Playoffs. They swept the Washington Bullets and soundly beat the Atlanta Hawks in five games, but bowed out in seven matches against the archrival Boston Celtics in what was called one of the physically and mentally toughest series ever. Rodman feuded with Celtics guard Dennis Johnson and taunted Johnson in the closing seconds when he waved his right hand over his own head. When the Celtics took Game Seven, Johnson went back at Rodman in the last moments of the game and mimicked his taunting gesture.
After the loss, Rodman made headlines by directly accusing Celtics star Larry Bird of being overrated because he was white: "Larry Bird is overrated in a lot of areas. ... Why does he get so much publicity? Because he's white. You never hear about a black player being the greatest". Although teammate Thomas supported him, he endured harsh criticism, but avoided being called a racist because, according to him, his own girlfriend Anicka "Annie" Bakes was white.
In the following 1987–1988 season, Rodman steadily improved his stats, averaging 11.6 points and 8.7 rebounds and starting in 32 of 82 regular season games. The Pistons fought their way into the 1988 NBA Finals, and took a 3–2 lead, but lost in seven games against the Los Angeles Lakers. In Game Six, the Pistons were down by one point with eight seconds to go; Dumars missed a shot, and Rodman just fell short of an offensive rebound and a putback which could have won the title. In Game Seven, L.A. led by 15 points in the fourth quarter, but Rodman's defense helped cut down the lead to six with 3:52 minutes to go and to two with one minute to go. But then, he fouled Magic Johnson, who hit a free throw, missed an ill-advised shot with 39 seconds to go, and the
Pistons never recovered. In that year, he and his girlfriend Annie had a daughter they named Alexis.
Rodman remained a bench player during the 1988–1989 season, averaging 9.0 points and 9.4 rebounds in 27 minutes, yet providing such effective defense that he was voted into the All-Defensive Team, the first of eight times in his career. He also began seeing more playing time after Adrian Dantley was traded at midseason to Dallas for Mark Aguirre. In that season, the Pistons finally vanquished their playoffs bane by sweeping the Boston Celtics, then winning in six games versus the Chicago Bulls—including scoring champion Michael Jordan—and easily defeating the Lakers 4–0 in the 1989 NBA Finals. Although he was hampered by back spasms, Rodman dominated the boards, grabbing 19 rebounds in Game 3 and providing tough interior defense.
In the 1989–1990 season, Detroit lost perennial defensive forward Rick Mahorn when he was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves in that year's expansion draft and ended up on the Philadelphia 76ers when the Pistons could not reacquire him. It was feared that the loss of Mahorn – average in talent, but high on hustle and widely considered a vital cog of the "Bad Boys" teams – would diminish the Pistons' spirit, but Rodman seamlessly took over his role. He went on to win his first big individual accolade. Averaging 8.8 points and 9.7 rebounds while starting in the last 43 regular season games, he established himself as the best defensive player in the game; during this period, the Pistons won 59 games, and Rodman was lauded by the NBA "for his defense and rebounding skills, which were unparalleled in the league". For his feats, he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award; he also connected on a .595 field goal percentage, best in the league. In the 1990 NBA Playoffs, the Pistons beat the Bulls again, and in the 1990 NBA Finals, Detroit met the Portland Trail Blazers. Rodman suffered from an injured ankle and was often replaced by Mark Aguirre, but even without his defensive hustle, Detroit beat Portland in five games and claimed their second title.
During the 1990–1991 season, Rodman finally established himself as the starting small forward of the Pistons. He played such strong defense that the NBA stated he "could shut down any opposing player, from point guard to center". After coming off the bench for most of his earlier years, he finally started in 77 of the 82 regular season games, averaged 8.2 points and 12.5 rebounds and won his second Defensive Player of the Year Award. In the 1991 NBA Playoffs, however, the Pistons were swept by the championship-winning Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. It was the 1991–1992 season where Rodman made a remarkable leap in his rebounding, collecting an astounding 18.7 rebounds per game (1,530 in total), winning his first of seven consecutive rebounding crowns, along with scoring 9.8 points per game, and making his first All-NBA Team. His 1,530 rebounds (the most since Wilt Chamberlain's 1,572 in the 1971–1972 season) have never been surpassed since then; the best mark not set by Rodman is by Kevin Willis, who grabbed 1,258 boards that same season. Willis lamented that Rodman had an advantage in winning the rebounding title with his lack of offensive responsibilities. In a March 1992 game, Rodman totaled a career high 34 rebounds. However, the aging Pistons were eliminated by the upcoming New York Knicks in the First round of the 1992 NBA Playoffs.
Rodman experienced a tough loss when coach Chuck Daly, whom he had admired as a surrogate father, resigned in May; Rodman skipped the preseason camp and was fined $68,000. The following 1992–1993 season was even more tumultuous. Rodman and Annie Bakes, the mother of his daughter Alexis, were divorcing after a short marriage, an experience which left him traumatized. The Pistons won only 40 games and missed the 1993 NBA Playoffs entirely. One night in February 1993, Rodman was found asleep in his car with a loaded rifle. Four years later in his biography As Bad As I Wanna Be, he confessed having thought about suicide and described that night as an epiphany: "I decided that instead [of killing myself] I was gonna kill the impostor that was leading Dennis Rodman to a place he didn't want to go ... So I just said, 'I'm going to live my life the way I want to live it and be happy doing it.' At that moment I tamed [sic] my whole life around. I killed the person I didn't want to be." The book was later adapted for a TV movie Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story. Although he had three years and $11.8 million remaining on his contract, Rodman demanded a trade. On October 1, 1993, the Pistons dealt him to the San Antonio Spurs.
In the 1993–1994 NBA season, Rodman joined a Spurs team which was built around perennial All-Star center David Robinson, with a supporting cast of forwards Dale Ellis, Willie Anderson and guard Vinny Del Negro On the hardwood, Rodman now was played as a power forward and won his third straight rebounding title, averaging 17.3 boards per game, along with another All-Defensive Team call-up. Living up to his promise of killing the "shy imposter" and "being himself" instead, Rodman began to show first signs of unconventional behavior: before the first game, he shaved his hair and dyed it blonde, which was followed up by stints with red, purple, blue hair and a look inspired from the film Demolition Man. During the season, he headbutted Stacey King and John Stockton, refused to leave the hardwood once after being ejected, and had a highly publicized two-month affair with Madonna. The only player to whom Rodman related was reserve center Jack Haley, who earned his trust by not being shocked after a visit to a gay bar. However, despite a 55-win season, Rodman and the Spurs did not survive the first round of the 1994 NBA Playoffs and bowed out against the Utah Jazz in four games.
In the following 1994–1995 NBA season, Rodman clashed with the Spurs front office. He was suspended for the first three games, took a leave of absence on November 11, and was suspended again on December 7. He finally returned on December 10 after missing 19 games. After joining the team, he suffered a shoulder separation in a motorcycle accident, limiting his season to 49 games. Normally, he would not have qualified for any season records for missing so many games, but by grabbing 823 rebounds, he just surpassed the 800-rebound limit for listing players and won his fourth straight rebounding title by averaging 16.8 boards per game and made the All-NBA Team. In the 1995 NBA Playoffs, the 62-win Spurs with reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Award winner Robinson entered the Western Conference Finals and were considered favorites against the reigning champions Houston Rockets who had only won 47 games. It was thought that Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon would have a hard time asserting himself versus Robinson and Rodman, who had both been voted into the NBA All-Defensive Teams. However, neither Robinson nor Rodman, who had disrupted a playoff game against the Lakers by sitting down on the court, could stop Olajuwon, who averaged 35.3 points against the elite defensive Spurs frontcourt, and helped eliminate the Spurs in six games.
Prior to the 1995–1996 NBA season, Rodman was traded to the Chicago Bulls of perennial scoring champion Michael Jordan for center Will Perdue and cash considerations to fill a large void at power forward left by Horace Grant, who left the Bulls prior to the 1994–1995 season. Given Rodman could not use the 10 jersey as the Bulls had retired it for Bob Love, and the NBA denied him the reversion 01, Rodman instead picked the number 91, whose digits add up to 10. Although the trade for the already 34-year-old and volatile Rodman was considered a gamble at that time, the power forward quickly adapted to his new environment, helped by the fact that his best friend Jack Haley was also traded to the Bulls. Under coach Phil Jackson, he averaged 5.5 points and 14.9 rebounds per game, winning yet another rebounding title, and was part of the great Bulls team that won 72 of 82 regular season games, an NBA record at the time.
Although struggling with calf problems early in the season, Rodman grabbed 20 or more rebounds 11 times and had his first triple-double against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 16, 1996 scoring 10 points and adding 21 rebounds and 10 assists; by playing his trademark tough defense, he joined Jordan and Pippen in the All-NBA Defense First Team. Ever controversial, Rodman made negative headlines after a head butt of referee Ted Bernhardt during a game in New Jersey on March 16, 1996; he was suspended for six games and fined $20,000, a punishment that was criticized as too lenient by the local press.
In the 1996 NBA Playoffs, Rodman scored 7.5 points and grabbed 13.7 rebounds per game and had a large part in the six-game victory against the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 NBA Finals: in Game Two at home in the Bulls' United Center, he grabbed 20 rebounds, among them a record-tying 11 offensive boards, and in Game Six, again at the United Center, the power forward secured 19 rebounds and again 11 offensive boards, scored five points in a decisive 12–2 Bulls run, unnerved opposing power forward Shawn Kemp and caused Seattle coach George Karl to say: "As you evaluate the series, Dennis Rodman won two basketball games. We controlled Dennis Rodman for four games. But Game 2 and tonight, he was the reason they were successful." His two games with 11 offensive rebounds each tied the NBA Finals record of Elvin Hayes.
In the 1996–1997 NBA season, Rodman won his sixth rebounding title in a row with 16.7 boards per game, along with 5.7 points per game, but failed to rank another All-Defensive Team call-up. However, he made more headlines for his notorious behavior. On January 15, 1997, he was involved in an incident during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. After tripping over cameraman Eugene Amos, Rodman kicked Amos in the groin. Though he was not assessed a technical foul at the time, he ultimately paid Amos a $200,000 settlement, and the league suspended Rodman for 11 games without pay. Thus, he effectively lost $1 million. Missing another three games to suspensions, often getting technical fouls early in games and missing an additional 13 matches due to knee problems, Rodman was not as effective in the 1997 NBA Playoffs, in which the Bulls reached the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. He struggled to slow down Jazz power forward Karl Malone, but did his share to complete the six-game Bulls victory.
The regular season of the 1997–1998 NBA season ended with Rodman winning his seventh consecutive rebounding title with 15.0 boards per game, along with 4.7 points per game. He grabbed 20 or more rebounds 11 times, among them a 29-board outburst against the Atlanta Hawks and 15 offensive boards (along with ten defensive) versus the Los Angeles Clippers. Led by the aging Jordan and Rodman (respectively 35 and 37 years old), the Bulls reached the 1998 NBA Finals, again versus the Jazz. After playing strong defense on Malone in the first three games, he caused major consternation when he left his team prior to Game Four to go wrestling with Hulk Hogan. He was fined $20,000, but it was not even ten percent of what he earned with this stint. However, Rodman's on-court performance remained top-notch, again shutting down Malone in Game Four until the latter scored 39 points in a Jazz Game Five win, bringing the series to 3–2 from the Bulls perspective. In Game Six, Jordan hit the decisive basket after a memorable drive on Jazz forward Bryon Russell, the Bulls won their third title in a row and Rodman his fifth ring.
Rodman garnered as much publicity for his public antics. He dated Madonna and claimed she tried to conceive a child with him. Shortly after, Rodman famously wore a wedding dress to promote his autobiography Bad As I Wanna Be, claiming that he was bisexual and that he was marrying himself.
Personal Life and Family
Rodman was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Shirley and Philander Rodman, Jr., an Air Force enlisted member, who later fought in the Vietnam War. When he was young, his father left his family, eventually settling in the Philippines. Rodman has many brothers and sisters: according to his father, he has either 26 or 28 siblings on his father's side. However, Rodman himself has stated that he is the oldest of a total of 47 children.
After his father left, Shirley took many odd jobs to support the family, up to four at the same time. In his 1997 biography Bad As I Wanna Be, he expresses his feelings for his father: "I haven't seen my father in more than 30 years, so what's there to miss ... I just look at it like this: Some man brought me into this world. That doesn't mean I have a father". (He would not meet his father again until 2012.
Rodman and his two sisters, Debra and Kim, grew up in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, at the time one of the most impoverished areas of the city. Rodman was so attached to his mother that he refused to move when she sent him to a nursery when he was four years old. According to Rodman, his mom was more interested in his two sisters, who were both considered more talented than he was in basketball, and made him a laughing stock whenever he tagged along with them. He felt generally "overwhelmed" by the all-female household. Debra and Kim would go on to become All-Americans at Louisiana Tech and Stephen F. Austin, respectively. Debra won two national titles with the Lady Techsters.
While attending South Oak Cliff High School, Rodman was a gym class student of future Texas A&M basketball coach Gary Blair. Blair coached Rodman's sisters Debra and Kim, winning three state championships. However, Rodman was not considered an athletic standout. According to Rodman, he was "unable to hit a layup" and was listed in the high school basketball teams, but was either benched or cut from the squads. Measuring only 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) as a freshman in high school, he also failed to make the football teams and was "totally devastated". After finishing school, Rodman worked as an overnight janitor at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. He then experienced a sudden growth spurt and decided to try basketball again despite becoming even more withdrawn because he felt odd in his own body.
A family friend tipped off the head coach of Cooke County College (now North Central Texas College) in Gainesville, Texas. In his single semester there, he averaged 17.6 points and 13.3 rebounds, before flunking out due to poor academic performance. After his short stint in Gainesville, he transferred to Southeastern Oklahoma State University, an NAIA school. There, Rodman was a three-time NAIA All-American and led the NAIA in rebounding twice (1985, 1986). In three seasons there (1983–1986), he averaged 25.7 points and 15.7 rebounds, led the NAIA in rebounding twice and registered a .637 field goal percentage. At the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a pre-draft camp for NBA hopefuls, he won Most Valuable Player honors and caught the attention of the Detroit Pistons.
During college Rodman worked at a summer youth basketball camp, where he befriended camper Bryne Rich, who was shy and withdrawn due to a hunting accident in which he mistakenly shot and killed his best friend. The two became almost inseparable and formed a close bond. Rich invited Rodman to his rural Oklahoma home; at first, Rodman was not well-received by the Riches because he was black. But the Riches were so grateful to him for bringing their son out of his shell that they were able to set aside their prejudices. Although Rodman had severe family and personal issues himself, he "adopted" the Riches as his own in 1982 and went from the city life to "driving a tractor and messing with cows". Though Rodman credited the Riches as his "surrogate family" that helped him through college, as of 2013 he had stopped communicating with the Rich family for reasons unknown to them.