Shaquille O'Neal will never forget Dennis Rodman's stint with the Los Angeles Lakers and the way he treated their head coach at the time, Kurt Rambis.
Short stint with the Lakers
After his legendary stint with the Chicago Bulls ended in 1998, Dennis Rodman felt like he could still impact the NBA at the age of 37. The Los Angeles Lakers signed him in a lockout-shortened season, hoping his experience, defense, and rebounding would help the Lakers get their first shot at an NBA title after almost a decade.
According to Shaquille O'Neal and an insert from his book 'Shaq Talks Back', Rodman didn't quite fit well with the team, and he immediately started fighting and arguing with the Lakers head coach at the time Kurt Rambis. Shaq remembered how Rodman was the biggest celebrity on that team, at the height of his popularity, which allowed him to have special treatment with the team. However, despite the favorable treatment, Rodman disliked Rambis and his coaching methods, often criticizing him in front of the entire team.
"D. Rod didn't respect Kurt, either. The game would start at 7:30, the media would leave at 6:45, and Rodman would come in at 7:15, wearing some crazy-ass outfit, eating a chicken plate. Kurt would be saying, "This is how we're going to play the pick-and-roll." Rodman would go, "No, that's not how you play the pick-and-roll. Let them motherf***ers shoot."
Rodman really disliked Rambis
In any normal situation, no matter your status with the team, the team would suspend or at least have a serious conversation with Rodman about his unprofessional behavior. However, that didn't happen with the Lakers, who allowed Rodman to act any way he wanted to without suffering any repercussions.
At first, the organization sucked up to him too much. They let him get away with anything. He'd just come in whenever he wanted to, and he did what he wanted to. He didn't practice. He told Kurt one day, "I don't shoot, so why the fuck am I practicing?"
Shaq details that it got so bad at one point between Rodman and Rumbis that he called him out in front of everyone, saying he doesn't know how to coach properly, not having a structure in place that would benefit the players.
D. Rodman would talk back to Kurt all the time. Like one time we lost a game, Kurt came in the locker room and got on us. D. said, "Can I say something?" "Go ahead, Dennis," Kurt said.
"It's not the players' fault," Rodman said. "It's your fucking fault." Then he went off on Kurt. "I ain't used to this s**t. You ain't got no organization. "When I fucking played with Phil Jackson, Phil told us how we was gonna play the pick-and-roll, who does what. You don't do s**t. Just fucking come in and put some bullsh** on the board and tell us to guard. That's why we lost. You ain't sh**. You a sorry-ass coach."
Rodman's stint with the Lakers didn't last long, and he only played 23 games in a purple and gold jersey. He did average 11.2 rebounds, which was why the Lakers brought him in the first place, but the Lakers didn't make any significant progress in the playoffs. Kurt Rambis was never a great coach, and Rodman was in some way right about him, but to be so blatantly honest and direct is something that nobody expected, even Shaq.
Luckily for the Lakers, they replaced Kurt Rambis the next season with none other than Phil Jackson, whom Dennis thought would be an excellent fit for the team. Rodman was also gone and played his last season with the Dallas Mavericks while the Lakers went on to have a historic three-peat establishing themselves as one of the most prominent teams in NBA history.