For NBA fans, ESPN’s acclaimed documentary series, “The Last Dance,” is certainly must-see viewing. The series documents the final championship run for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dynasty. But while Jordan is the show’s central figure, it’s the story and antics of one Dennis Rodman that keeps us glued to the TV.
Rodman is not only one of the greatest rebounders in league history, he is also one of the most colorful, controversial and polarizing characters the game has ever seen. After all, how many other basketball players have cavorted with Madonna; wore a wedding dress to a book signing; married Carmen Electra; kicked a cameraman in the family jewels; wrestled “Macho Man” Randy Savage; hobnobbed with Kim Jung Eun; and according to Rodman himself, “broke” his penis three times?
Only “The Worm.”
Here are 17 assorted facts you should know about Dennis Rodman:
♦ Rodman was born on May 13, 1961. He shares the same birthday as Stevie Wonder, Stephen Colbert, Robert Pattinson, Darius Rucker, and the late Joe Louis and Bea Arthur.
♦ Rodman has stated that he is one of 47 siblings. His father, Philander Rodman, Jr. however, said he has “only” fathered 29 children.
♦ The nickname “Worm” was given to him by his mother, Shirley, because of the way young Dennis wiggled and moved when playing pinball.
♦ His older sister, Debra, was an All-American hoops performer at Louisiana Tech. She led the program to four Final Four appearances and back-to-back national championships (1981 and ‘82).
♦ Rodman was only 5-6 in high school and didn’t make the basketball or football team. After graduating, he worked as a janitor at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
♦ A growth spurt gave Rodman a second chance at basketball, and he went on to become a three-time All-American at Southeastern Oklahoma State, an NAIA institution. At that time, he was a prolific scorer as well as rebounder, averaging 25.7 points and 15.7 rebounds in those three seasons.
Rodman blossomed as a basketball player at Southeastern Oklahoma State, an NAIA school.
♦ Rodman took part in the 1986 Aloha Classic, a three-day all-star tournament spotlighting the country’s top senior players. Held at Afook Chinen Civic in Hilo, the event solidified Rodman’s status as an NBA prospect. Said Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins after Rodman’s 25-point, 11-rebound performance in one game: “It’s incredible. Rodman is such a raw talent. He can play with anyone in the country. He showed that tonight.”
♦ The Detroit Pistons selected Rodman with the third pick in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft. In the first round, the Pistons drafted center John Salley of Georgia Tech. Rodman and Salley were teammates in the Aloha Classic.
♦ In his rookie campaign, Rodman played in 77 games for the Pistons, starting in one. He averaged 6.5 points and 4.3 rebounds for the season.
♦ In time, Rodman became known as a fierce defender. He would become a two-time NBA “Defensive Player of the Year” (1990 and ‘91) and seven-time selection to the league’s All-Defensive First Team.
♦ Rodman also dominated on the boards. For seven straight seasons (1992 to 1998), he led the NBA in rebounding. His top rebounding season was the 1991-92 year, when he averaged 18.7 boards a game. It was the highest season average since Wilt Chamberlain grabbed 19.1 boards per game in 1972.
Move over, Air Jordan. Make way for Hair Rodman!
♦ Rodman started dying his hair in 1993, after the Pistons traded the disgruntled star to the San Antonio Spurs. He reportedly did it as an homage to the Wesley Snipes character in the sci-fi action flick, “Demolition Man.”
♦ In 1996, Rodman penned his first book, the autobiographical “Bad as I Want to Be.” The bestseller later inspired a TV movie of the same name.
♦ When Rodman was traded to the Chicago Bulls, he could wear his customary No. 10 because the team had retired that number in honor of Bob Love. At first, he tried to wear the reverse “01,” but the league nixed that request. Rodman then chose to wear the number 91 because the digits added up to 20.
♦ In August 1999, Rodman wrestled “Macho Man” Randy Savage in WCW pay-per-view event in Sturgis, South Dakota. It was his third in-ring appearance for Rodman. Savage scored the win after knocking out Rodman with a steel chain.
♦ Rodman’s final NBA stop was with his hometown Dallas Mavericks. He lasted only 13 games before being released. During that span, he received six technicals, was ejected twice and served a one-game suspension.
♦ Rodman was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. His coach with the Bulls, Phil Jackson, introduced him at the induction ceremony.
Rodman tangled with “Macho Man” Randy Savage in a 1999 pro wrestling match.
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