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Dennis Rodman’s Lakers experience - Kobe Bryant trying to be Michael Jordan and dating Jeanie Buss


Life didn’t end for Dennis Rodman after the Chicago Bulls breakup in 1998. He unexpectedly found himself playing for the L.A. Lakers in the ‘98/’99 season. The Worm shared some behind-the-scenes moments including young Kobe Bryant’s potential and dating Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.

Rodman’s Lakers story

When Rodman played for the Lakers after winning a 3-peat with the Bulls, one can expect some juicy stories that happened at that time. Dennis’ colorful personality plus a storied franchise like the Lakers are good ingredients for some off-court drama.

At that time, everyone in the league knew Kobe was trying to become MJ’s apparent, and who better to see it happening than the man who just spent three years playing with MJ. “Everyone knew Kobe emulated Michael. ’Cause he act like Michael, talk like Michael. But Kobe was close to Michael when it comes to basketball skill.” So even though Rodman got to play with a young Kobe and only for a brief time, the forward-center knew the young star was bound for greatness. Dennis also shared he dated owner Jeanie Buss for six months. 

“Jeanie Buss called me. Jeanie said 'Dennis you want to go out to dinner?' I said 'Yeah why not.' I've known Jeanie since she was in Playboy. So they put me up in the Ritz Carlton, in the penthouse, and she said 'You wanna have some drinks?' so we have some drinks. Ofcourse...take if from there. So I start, this is a true story, I started dating Jeanie Buss. I dated her for six months.”

Dennis Rodman, ">LifeSpeaks Media Group

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The man, the myth, the legend: only Rodman. Imagine being this newcomer who got to hang out and date the team owner even before playing his first game as a Laker. The 5-time champion swore it’s a true story, but we can’t verify the details unless Buss herself confirms it (which we doubt she would.) 

Why Dennis Rodman and the Lakers didn’t work out

On paper, a roster featuring Shaq-Kobe-Rodman-Glenn Rice-Robert Horry-Elden Campbell looked like a sure title for L.A. Rodman’s’s addition was initially thought of as a good idea since he just won a championship with the Bulls. Although he was at the tail-end of his career, Rodman still averaged 15 rebounds per game in 1998. Dennis and the Lakers weren’t a good fit because of ego, clash of personalities, and team structure.

Rodman shined in Detroit and Chicago because they let him become himself. As featured in the Last Dance documentary, Phil Jackson allowed Rodman to have a break and enjoy himself in Las Vegas before the NBA finals. It worked in the end for everyone. The Lakers locker room had a problem with letting Dennis be Dennis.

Kobe and Shaq were so envious of me because they [the Lakers] catered to me so much - coming to the game, going out after the game, having parties, doing this, doing that, hotel this...stuff like that - they couldn't stand me on that damn team, to be honest with you.

Dennis Rodman, ">LifeSpeaks Media Group

Even if he didn’t accomplish the goals he was traded for to achieve, Rodman came away with precious stories. Sharing the court with future Hall of Famers and dating Lakers owner? Only Rodman can. 

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