Dennis Keith Rodman
May 13, 1961 in Trenton, New Jersey
South Oak Cliffton (Dallas, Texas)
Southeastern Oklahoma State (1983-1986)
Detroit Pistons, 27th Overall, 1986 NBA Draft
G - 911
FG% - .521
3PFG% - .231
FT% - .584
Points - 6,683
PPG - 7.3
Rebounds - 11,954
RPG - 13.1
Assists - 1600
APG - 1.8
Blocks - 531
BPG - 0.6
Steals - 611
SPG - 0.7
5 x NBA Champion, 2 x NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 2 x NBA All-Star, 2 x All NBA Third Team, 7 x All NBA Defensive Team, 1 x All Defensive Second Team, 7 x NBA Rebounding Champion, 3 x NAIA All-American, Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2011.
High school and college career
While attending South Oak Cliff High School, Rodman played under future Texas A&M coach Gary Blair. However, Rodman was not considered an athletic standout. According to himself, he was "unable to hit a layup" and was listed in the high school basketball teams, but was either benched or cut from the squads. Measuring only 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) as a freshman in high school, he also failed to make the football teams and was "totally devastated". After finishing school, Rodman worked as an overnight janitor at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. He experienced a sudden growth spurt, and decided to give basketball another shot.
A family friend tipped off the head coach of Cooke County College in Gainesville, Texas. In his single semester there, he averaged 17.6 points and 13.3 rebounds, before flunking out due to poor academic performances. After his short stint in Gainesville, he transferred to Southeastern Oklahoma State University, an NAIA school. There, Rodman was a three-time NAIA All-American and led the NAIA in rebounding in both the 1984–85 and 1985–86 seasons. In three seasons there, 1983–84 through 1985–86, he averaged 25.7 points and 15.7 rebounds, led the NAIA in rebounding twice and registered a .637 field goal percentage. He averaged over 25 points per game for his three-year NAIA career. At the Portsmouth Invitational, a pre-draft camp for NBA hopefuls, he won Most Valuable Player honors and caught the attention of the Detroit Pistons.
During this time, Rodman worked at a summer youth basketball camp, where he befriended camper Byrne Rich, who was shy and withdrawn, following from a hunting accident in which he mistakenly shot and killed his best friend. The two became almost inseparable, and formed a bond. Rich invited Rodman to his rural Oklahoma home; at first, Rodman was not well-received by the Riches due to being an African-American. But, the Riches were so grateful to him for bringing their son out of his shell that they were able to set aside their prejudices. Although Rodman had severe family and personal issues himself, he "adopted" the Riches as his own in 1982 and went from the city life to "driving a tractor and messing with cows. "Rodman credits the Riches as his "surrogate family" that helped him through college.
Rodman made himself eligible for the 1986 NBA Draft. He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons as the 27th pick, joining the rugged team of coach Chuck Daly that was called "Bad Boys" for their hard-nosed approach to basketball. The squad featured Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars at the guard positions, Adrian Dantley and Sidney Green at forward, and center Bill Laimbeer. Bench players who played more than 15 minutes per game were sixth man Vinnie Johnson and the backup forwards Rick Mahorn and John Salley. Rodman fit well into this ensemble, providing 6.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and some tough defense in 15.0 minutes of playing time per game. Winning 52 games, the Pistons comfortably entered the 1987 NBA Playoffs. They swept the Washington Bullets and soundly beat the Atlanta Hawks in five games, but bowed out in seven matches against their archrivals Boston Celtics in what was called one of the physically and mentally toughest series ever. Rodman feuded with Celtics guard Dennis Johnson, taunting him in the closing seconds by waving his right hand over his head. When the Celtics took Game Seven, Johnson went back at Rodman in the last moments of the game and mimicked his taunting gesture. After the loss, Rodman made headlines by insinuating that Celtics star Larry Bird was overrated because he was white: "Larry Bird is overrated in a lot of areas. ...Why does he get so much publicity? Because he's white. You never hear about a black player being the greatest." Although teammate Thomas supported him, he endured harsh criticism, but avoided being called a racist because, according to him, his own girlfriend Anicka "Annie" Bakes was white.
In the following 1987–88 season, Rodman steadily improved his stats, averaging 11.6 points and 8.7 rebounds and starting in 32 of 82 regular season games. The Pistons fought their way into the 1988 NBA Finals, and took a 3–2 lead, but lost in seven games against the Los Angeles Lakers. In Game Six, the Pistons were down by one point with eight seconds to go; Dumars missed a shot, and Rodman just fell short of an offensive rebound and a putback which could have won the title. In Game Seven, L.A. led by 15 points in the fourth quarter, but Rodman’s defense helped cut down the lead to six with 3:52 minutes to go and to two with one minute to go. But then, he fouled Magic Johnson, who hit a free throw, missed an ill-advised shot with 39 seconds to go, and the Pistons never recovered.
In the 1989–90 season, Detroit lost perennial defensive forward Rick Mahorn due to the expansion draft of the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was feared that the loss of Mahorn – average in talent, but high on hustle and widely considered a vital cog of the "Bad Boys" teams – would diminish the Pistons’ spirit, but Rodman seamlessly took over his role. He went on to win his first big individual accolade. Averaging nine points and 10 rebounds and starting in the last 43 regular season games, he established himself as the best defensive player in the game; during this period, the Pistons won 59 games, and Rodman was lauded by the NBA "for his defense and rebounding skills, which were unparalleled in the league". For his feats, he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award; he also connected on a .595 field goal percentage, which made him the most precise shooter of the league. In the 1990 NBA Playoffs, the Pistons beat the Bulls again, and in the 1990 NBA Finals, Detroit met the Portland Trail Blazers. Rodman suffered from an injured ankle and was often replaced by Mark Aguirre, but even without his defensive hustle, Detroit beat Portland in five games and claimed their second title.
After winning his second NBA championship ring, Rodman entered the 1990–91 season. In that year, he finally established himself as the starting small forward of the Pistons. He played such strong defense that the NBA stated he "could shut down any opposing player, from point guard to center". After coming off the bench for most of his earlier years, he finally started in 77 of the 82 regular season games, averaged 8.2 points and 12.5 rebounds and won his second Defensive Player of the Year Award. In the 1991 NBA Playoffs however, the Pistons were swept by the championship-winning Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. It was the 1991–92 season where Rodman made a remarkable leap in his rebounding, collecting an astounding 18.7 rebounds per game (1,530 in total), winning his first of seven consecutive rebounding crowns, along with scoring 9.8 points per game, and made his first All-NBA Team. His 1,530 rebounds (the most since Wilt Chamberlain's 1,572 in the 1971–72 season) have never been surpassed since then; the best mark not set by Rodman is credited to Kevin Willis, who grabbed 1,258 boards in 1992–93. In a March 1992 game, he totaled a career high 34 total rebounds. However, the aging Pistons were eliminated by the upcoming New York Knicks in the First Round of the 1992 NBA Playoffs.
Rodman experienced a tough loss when coach Chuck Daly resigned in May, whom he had admired as a surrogate father; Rodman skipped the preseason camp and was fined $68,000. The following 1992–93 season was even more tumultuous. He finally married Annie Bakes in September 1992, the mother of his four year old daughter Alexis, but the marriage went sour quickly and Bakes divorced him in December, an experience which left him traumatized. The Pistons won only 40 games and missed the 1993 NBA Playoffs entirely. One night in February 1993, Rodman was found asleep in his car with a loaded rifle. Four years later in his biography As Bad As I Wanna Be, he confessed having thought about suicide and described that night as an epiphany: "I decided that instead [of killing myself] I was gonna kill the impostor that was leading Dennis Rodman to a place he didn't want to go... So I just said, 'I'm going to live my life the way I want to live it and be happy doing it.' At that moment I tamed [sic] my whole life around. I killed the person I didn't want to be."Although he had three years and $11.8 million remaining on his contract, Rodman demanded a trade. On October 1, 1993, the Pistons dealt him to the San Antonio Spurs.
In the 1993–94 NBA season, Rodman joined a Spurs team which was built around perennial All-Star center David Robinson, with a supporting cast of forwards Dale Ellis, Willie Anderson and guard Vinnie Del Negro. On the hardwood, Rodman now was played as a power forward and won his third straight rebounding title, averaging 17.3 boards per game along with a career-low 4.7 points, but yet another All-Defensive Team call-up. Living up to his promise of killing the "shy imposter" and "being himself" instead, Rodman began to show first signs of bizarre behaviour: before the first game, he shaved his hair and dyed it blonde, which was followed up stints with red, purple, blue hair and a look inspired from the film Demolition Man. During the season, he headbutted Stacey King and John Stockton, refused to leave the hardwood once after being ejected, and had a highly-publicized two month affair with Madonna. The only player to whom Rodman related was reserve center Jack Haley, who won his trust by not being shocked after a visit to a gay bar. However, despite a 55-win season, Rodman and the Spurs did not survive the First Round of the 1994 NBA Playoffs and bowed out against the Utah Jazz in four games.
In the following 1994–95 NBA season, Rodman clashed with the Spurs front office. He was suspended for the first three games, took a leave of absence on November 11, and was suspended again on December 7. He finally returned on December 10 after missing 19 games. After joining the team, he suffered a shoulder separation in a motorcycle accident, limiting his season to 49 games. Normally, he would not have qualified for any season records for missing so many games, but by grabbing 823 rebounds, he just surpassed the 800-rebound limit for listing players and won his fourth straight rebounding title by averaging 16.8 boards per game and made the All-NBA Team. In the 1995 NBA Playoffs, the 62-win Spurs with reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Award winner Robinson entered the Western Conference Finals and were considered favorites against the reigning champions Houston Rockets who had only won 47 games. It was thought that Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon would have a hard time asserting himself versus Robinson and Rodman, who had both been voted into the NBA All-Defensive Teams. However, neither Robinson nor Rodman, who had disrupted a playoff game against the Lakers by sitting down on the court, could stop Olajuwon, who averaged 35.3 points against the elite defensive Spurs frontcourt, and helped eliminate the Spurs in six games.
The United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls. Rodman wrote history in the 1996 NBA Finals when he twice secured 11 offensive rebounds in this building, tying an all-time NBA record.
Prior to the 1995–96 NBA season, Rodman was traded to the Chicago Bulls of perennial scoring champion Michael Jordan for center Will Perdue and cash considerations to fill a large void at power forward left by Horace Grant, who left the Bulls prior to the 1994–95 season. Although the trade for the already 34 year old and volatile Rodman was considered a gamble at that time, the power forward quickly adapted to his new environment, helped by the fact that his best friend Haley was also traded to the Bulls. Under coach Phil Jackson, he scored an average of 5.5 points and 14.9 rebounds per game, winning yet another rebounding title, and was part of the great Bulls team that won 72 of 82 regular season games, an all-time NBA record. About playing next to iconic Jordan and hard-working Scottie Pippen, Rodman said: "On the court, me and Michael are pretty calm and we can handle conversation. But as far as our lives go, I think he is moving in one direction and I'm going in the other. I mean, he's goin' north, I'm goin' south. And then you've got Scottie Pippen right in the middle. He's sort of the equator. "Although struggling with calf problems early in the season, Rodman grabbed 20 or more rebounds 11 times and had his first triple-double against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 16, 1996 scoring 10 points and adding 21 rebounds and 10 assists; by playing his trademark tough defense, he joined Jordan and Pippen in the All-NBA Defense First Team, making it the first time that three players from the same NBA team made the All-NBA Defensive First Team. Ever controversial, Rodman made negative headlines after a head butt of referee Ted Bernhardt during a game in New jersey
on March 16, 1996; he was fined $20,000, a punishment that was criticized as too lenient by the local press. In the 1996 NBA Playoffs, Rodman scored 7.5 points and grabbed 13.7 rebounds per game and had a large part in the six-game victory against the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 NBA Finals: in Game Two at home in the Bulls' United Center, he grabbed 20 rebounds, among them a record-tying 11 offensive boards, and in Game Six, again at United Center, the power forward secured 19 rebounds and again 11 offensive boards, scored five points in a decisive 12–2 Bulls run, unnerved opposing power forward Shawn Kemp and caused Seattle coach George Karl to say: "As you evaluate the series, Dennis Rodman won two basketball games. We controlled Dennis Rodman for four games. But Game 2 and tonight, he was the reason they were successful. "His two games with 11 offensive rebounds each tied the NBA Finals record of Elvin Hayes.
In the 1996–97 NBA season, Rodman won his sixth rebounding title en bloc with 16.7 boards per game, along with 5.7 points per game, but failed to rank another All-Defensive Team call-up. However, he made more headlines for his notorious behaviour: on January 15, 1997, he was involved in another incident during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. After tripping over cameraman Eugene Amos, Rodman kicked Amos in the groin. Though he was not assessed a technical foul at the time, he ultimately paid Amos a $200,000 settlement, the league suspended Rodman for 11 games without pay, thus he effectively lost $1 million. Missing another three games to suspensions, often getting technical fouls early in games and missing an additional 13 matches due to knee problems, Rodman was not as effective in the 1997 NBA Playoffs, in which the Bulls reached the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. There, he struggled to slow down Jazz power forward Karl Malone, but did his share to complete the six-game Bulls victory.
It was during this time that Rodman seriously took up his hobby of professional wrestling: he appeared in World Championship Wrestling as a member of nWo with his friend Hulk Hogan. His first match was at the July 1997 Bash at the Beach event where he teamed with Hogan in a loss to Lex Luger and The Giant.
The regular season of the 1997–98 NBA season ended with Rodman winning his seventh consecutive rebounding title with 15.0 boards per game, along with 4.7 points per game. He grabbed 20 or more rebounds 11 times, among them a 29-board outburst against the Atlanta Hawks and 15 offensive boards (along with ten defensive) versus the Los Angeles Clippers. Led by the aging Jordan and Rodman (respectively 35 and 37 years old), the Bulls reached the 1998 NBA Finals, again versus the Jazz. After playing strong defense on Karl Malone in the first three games, he caused major consternation when he left his team prior to Game Four to go wrestling with Hulk Hogan. He was fined $20,000, but it was not even ten percent of what he earned with this stint. However, Rodman’s on-court performance remained top-notch, again shutting down Malone in Game Four until the latter scored 39 points in a Jazz Game Five win, bringing the series to 3–2 from the Bulls perspective. In Game Six, Jordan hit the decisive basket after a memorable drive on Jazz forward Bryon Russell, the Bulls won their third title en bloc and Rodman his fifth ring.
In the off-season, Rodman and Malone squared off again, this time in WCW wrestling at the July 1998 edition of ’’Bash at the Beach’’. He fought alongside Hulk Hogan, and Malone tagged along with Diamond Dallas Page. In a poorly-received match, the two power forwards exchanged "rudimentary headlocks, slams and clotheslines" for 23 minutes.
For the 1998-1999 NBA season Rodman was signed by the Lakers but only played 28 games and was released. He was signed by the Mavericks in the 1999-2000 season but was waived after playing 12 games because of his erratic behavior and being ejected twice.