The Dallas Mavericks were the last NBA team Dennis Rodman played for, a bitter ending as the Worm played a mere 12 games before being released. Afterward, Rodman spilled his heart out at the franchise and then owner-to-be Mark Cuban.
Mark Cuban era
In his short stint with his hometown team, Rodman was slapped with six technical fouls and two ejections. There were off-court issues as well. This forced Mark Cuban, who was about to take over the Mavericks, to let go of the five-time champion. Rodman believes that the Mavericks’ choice to release him was connected to his reputation vis-a-vis Cuban’s future ownership.
“If it’s not a personal thing, then it’s the NBA, saying if you don’t get rid of Dennis Rodman, then you’re not going to be an owner,” Rodman said. “I think it’s an injustice because I’m me, Dennis Rodman. I haven’t done anything wrong. I thought I was doing a good job. I thought I lived up to my expectations. I don’t get it. I really don’t get it. I get the short end of the stick every ... time. What am I doing wrong?” Rodman said, per the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Rodman believes that the Mavericks merely hinged on his popularity as a player. Then, when he was of no use to them, they threw him out to the dogs.
“I got used again,” Rodman said. “It’s like being blackballed. I’ve done so much for this league and people want to see me play. ... I don’t get it.”
The Mavericks, of course, parried Rodman’s accusations. Then coach and general manager Don Nelson enumerated why they had to part ways with the then 39-year-old. None of these reasons included Rodman’s reckless behavior, particularly the one where the Worm slammed his teammates and criticized Mark Cuban for being over-zealous.
“There is no question Dennis Rodman would still be here if we were still in the playoff hunt,” Nelson said after the Mavericks’ first post-Rodman shootaround. “We had to decide if we wanted to continue to give him 35 minutes a game or if we wanted to play younger guys. We decided to play the younger guys. It was nothing he said or did.”
Steve Nash’s thoughts
While Cuban and Nelson tried to control the situation by claiming Rodman’s behavior had nothing to do with their decision, Steve Nash offered a different opinion. According to him, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year didn’t feel like donning the Mavericks jersey. This contradicts the perception that NBA players love playing for their hometown.
“I think it would have been great if it could have worked out, but it definitely wasn’t working out,” guard Steve Nash said. “I didn’t want to see him go in one sense, but on the other hand I think it was time that he did go. I don’t think he wanted to be here. If Dennis wanted to be here, I think we would have seen a different Dennis and a different result.”
Nash’s comments may have been closer to the truth. After all, Rodman is a winner. Before his stint in Dallas, he had won titles with the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls. It made sense that Rodman wanted to win one more championship before calling it quits. It’s quite unfortunate how Rodman spent his last season in the league. But this doesn’t diminish his greatness and impact on the game.