Jack Haley came to basketball fame as the only NBA player who spoke fluent Dennis Rodman. In other words, he was the only one who understood Rodman’s behavior on and off the court. So much so that the media called him The Worm’s babysitter, a label he wasn’t particularly fond of.
Baby-sitting the Menace
In the critical trade that sent Rodman to Chicago in 1995, Haley was inserted into the package as the front office deemed him a critical piece to smoothen the Worm’s transition to a new team. They were right; as it turned out Haley's willingness to go to gay bars with Rodman developed a trust that saved the Bulls' 1996 title run.
The media decided to poke fun at this by calling Haley Rodman’s babysitter. Once these whispers reached the big man, he immediately cleared things up by narrating the genesis of his friendship with Rodman.
“That has been a rough misconception for me this year,” Haley said. “Dennis and I played together last year in San Antonio. We are very best friends. We are together on and off the court, 24 hours a day. I think a lot of the perception is that the reason I am here is to baby-sit Dennis, which has been disappointing for me. . . . I know it is not reality, and my teammates know what I do everyday,” Haley said, per the Chicago Tribune.
Haley became the middleman during Rodman’s tiff with the San Antonio front office in the 1994-95 season. He then developed a reputation as Rodman’s PR guy, which was not necessarily the case. Haley understood Rodman’s ways and was just trying to help him.
“I am here as a player”
Rodman’s flamboyant persona made him a media favorite. Reporters wanted to talk to him to fish out some hilarious or controversial comment that would spike up their TV ratings. This was close to impossible, given Rodman’s evasiveness. When they got word of Haley’s closeness with the rebound king, they bugged him for Rodman’s availability.
This did not sit well with Haley. Once again, he clarified why he and Rodman have a tight bond. Not only do they have similar playstyles, but they also like to venture into similar off-court activities.
“We are both very physical players. We both enjoy working out in the weight room. We both listen to the same type of music, which is alternative rock ‘n’ roll. We both have an addiction to Las Vegas in the summertime. We spend a lot of time out there together,” said Haley.
Unlike Rodman, Haley isn’t a basketball rockstar. He’s a role player who did just okay to make the team. His closeness to a basketball god vis-a-vis his mediocre performance as a player bruised his ego in one way or another. Some believe that he was still in the league because of his connection with Rodman and not necessarily for his talent. Haley disputed this perception.
“Today, I think, is the cut deadline. I would have been cut if that (baby-sitting role) was the case. I am here as a player,” Haley said.
It is quite unfortunate that Haley had to remind everyone that he is a bona fide NBA player and not some nanny to a grown man. He was just trying his best to be friendly to the most interesting and misunderstood player in the history of the NBA.