The dyed hair, numerous tattoos, and piercings… Dennis Rodman’s influence on the sport is something hard to put into words but is something we can all identify. The electricity he brought to the game is undeniable, but it was often viewed as unconventional, dirty, and what youngsters like to call “NSFW” or not suitable for work.
Times have changed
Having become one of the Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys” upon entering the league, Rodman seemed destined for that persona. And he proved it by continuing where he left off when he joined the San Antonio Spurs in 1993. In fact, “Worm” even amplified his bad boy image, and by the time he signed with the Chicago Bulls, he was already famous for it.
But unlike other bad boys in the game, who had a reference and a plan for their character, Rodman said “it all just came naturally” to him. Therefore, regardless of what era he played in, Rodman is certain that he would still be the same player and person. The only difference is, according to the man himself, he “would be accepted now” as times have changed and guys like him are no longer hated. If anything, they even grow their fan base these days.
“I was probably the only player in the history of sports to build an image by himself,” Rodman told Sports Illustrated’s The Crossover in 2019. “It was all raw and natural, no Nike, no Adidas, no Converse. I would be accepted now. I wouldn’t be as flamboyant now as I was then. I would be one of many.”
It’s all about giving love
For the die-hard Rodman fans, this might not come as a surprise. But for those who don’t know, behind “Dennis the Menace” is a sensitive person who needed to be “cared for and loved,” something he found in Detroit.
“If I didn’t go to Detroit, I probably would have been out of the NBA my second or third year,” he confessed. “I needed to be embraced and cared and loved to keep me safe. The team and city really embraced me so much.”
Rodman went on to say that Pistons fans were amazing and whatever he did inside the court, people would “stand up and cheer.” And that explains why Rodman was “so happy, energetic, alive, and exuberant” whenever he plays, as he admittedly concluded, “I just wanted to show the love back to people.”
Looking at the game today, it appears that Rodman was right. Because if not, most of us won’t appreciate the new generation of NBA bad boys such as Draymond Green and Metta World Peace.