Rodman, Dennis Keith

▪ 1997

      After being eliminated from the National Basketball Association (NBA) play-offs in 1995, the Chicago Bulls took a chance and traded for the flamboyant Dennis Rodman, a 2.03-m (6-ft 8-in) forward considered one of the best rebounders and defenders in the game. In theory, a player with Rodman's skills was the final piece in Chicago's championship puzzle. Players and fans alike, however, were skeptical; Rodman sported provocative body tattoos, an ever-changing rainbow of hair colours, a rough, confrontational style of play developed during his years with the Detroit Pistons (the self-proclaimed "bad boys" of basketball who had won NBA championships in 1989 and 1990), and a history of disruptive behaviour and off-court antics that included dating the pop music star Madonna and posing nude for a magazine pictorial.

      Rodman was born on May 13, 1961, in Trenton, N.J., and grew up in Dallas, Texas. His two sisters were talented basketball players—both college All-Americans—but Rodman did not play in high school, when he stood only 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in). After graduation, however, the boy known to his friends as the Worm (because of his squirming style of pinball playing) grew 20 cm (8 in). He played basketball at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, averaging 25.7 points and 15.7 rebounds in a 96-game career, and was selected by Detroit in the second round of the 1986 NBA draft. Originally known as a hard-working, by-the-book player, Rodman grew restless after the 1992 departure from Detroit of coach Chuck Daly, whom he admired. As time passed, his off-court high jinks began to be scrutinized as closely as his on-court performance.

      In 1993 Rodman was traded to San Antonio, where he often clashed with the Spurs' coaches and management. Although he tied a league mark by winning his fourth consecutive rebounding title in 1994-95, the Spurs were anxious to ship him elsewhere. Under the guidance of the Bulls' unconventional head coach, Phil Jackson (q.v.), however, Rodman's season with Chicago was both colourful and successful. He won another rebounding crown and was named to the NBA All-Defensive team for the sixth time, while his high-energy, antagonistic style of play was credited with helping the Bulls to a league-record 72 regular-season victories and their fourth league title.

      In early 1996 Rodman released an autobiographical book, Bad as I Wanna Be, and, with his usual flair for the dramatic, arrived at a book signing in a formal dress and full makeup. The book was a best-seller. After the season he negotiated deals for a series of cable-television shows, a costarring role in an action feature film, and a substantial pay increase for his upcoming second season with the Bulls. (ANTHONY G. CRAINE)

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Universalium. 2010.

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