The Worm’s Turn
Dennis Rodman is headed to the Hall of Fame.
SLAM: What are your thoughts on being compared to Bill Russell?
DR: Bill Russell was way better than me ’cause he really innovated the rebounding position. If you can average 24 rebounds a game for a whole season for a couple years straight, that’s incredible. I don’t give a damn who you playing for or who you playing against, that’s unreal. Him and Wilt? Goddamn, you go back and look at the numbers, man, it’s incredible! Wilt almost averaged 30 rebounds one year. It’s a great honor to be compared to one of the greatest in the world.
SLAM: You always loved to engage the crowd while you played, especially in the Detroit days. What was that about?
DR: I loved being an entertainer in those Detroit days. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now. If I scored, I always made sure the crowd came with me. It wasn’t like a taunting thing; it was just like I was so happy. I was just happy to have the opportunity to be on the court. A lot of people could have said get the hell away from here, you don’t deserve to be here, you can’t play, you can’t shoot, but they gave me an opportunity. Every time I came in the game, they gave me a great ovation and that’s hard to just overlook, man. Once you hear stuff like that, you gotta go out there and give your best. You gotta go out there and give the people what they want. It just grew from there.
SLAM: Why were you and Chuck Daly so close?
DR: He just opened his heart to me, ’cause I was, like, a simple country black guy. All of a sudden comes this country redneck with boots and Levis and belt buckles and cowboy hats—you should have seen that shit, weird. You see me now compared to then, you’re like aw, fuck, damn. Tight fucking Wranglers, doing the fucking two-step every Tuesday. He just opened his heart to me and he just treated me like his son, man. I never had a dad, and he just brought me in and said, “You know, Dennis, even though you play for me, I just love you like my son. I’m not taking any charity to you or stuff like that; you just have a special place for me.” I think we just connected. I was always very, “Rah rah rah! Yay yay yay!” and I just liked to see a smile on his face. Always.
SLAM: What was it like for you when Daly left?
DR: I played one more year in Detroit, and then when I went to San Antonio, I did not skip a beat. I said, You know what? I’m not gon’ fail just because everything failed around my life. I’m not gon’ fail. I’ma go and just keep doing my job. I’m gonna keep doing what I do best and work my ass off. And that’s what I’ve done. I worked my ass off. I didn’t retire on my own terms, but all the things that happen to me, I say you know what? I’m going into the Hall of Fame and I’m one of the few people in the world that can be here.
SLAM: A lot of people consider the ’95-96 Bulls team to be the best ever. You agree?
DR: I always say this about Michael: I call Michael a God. I call Scottie Pippen Jesus. And I’m the Devil. And we worked together with that whole team. Everyone there was so special because everyone knew their roles. There was no bitching, no arguments. We knew we could win every time. We knew it. Playing with them was a once in a lifetime dream, and remember it wasn’t just two Hall of Famers. It’s three when you include Phil Jackson, and now, make it four Hall of Famers when you include me.
SLAM: Can you bless us with a story involving you and MJ?
DR: I was in my hotel room in Canada and Michael came to my room and saw me lying in bed with Carmen Electra. He just started laughing and said, “Only you, Dennis.”
SLAM: How is your relationship with Jordan and Pippen these days?
DR: About five or six years back, I was in Florida at Nikki Beach Club and heard Michael and Scottie were also there. Within an hour, we all found each other and wound up in a private cabana together with tons of security around us and people going nuts to take pictures. It made me think of three Beatles all over again: Jordan, Pippen and Rodman and that we have a bond that will last forever.
SLAM: So what’s next for Dennis Rodman?
DR: People always ask me, “Do you have a job?” I don’t have a damn job. It’s just life, man. I have a good time; sky’s the limit for me. For the last 20 years, I’ve always been an innovator. I’ve always been a creator. I’ve always loved to just be me and entertain people. I’ve done pretty much everything in the world. Ask me about something and I’ll tell you I’ve done it. I’m lucky to be alive, standing here talking to you. I’m lucky just to be here in general.