Dennis Rodman, basketball’s most famous Bad Boy and flamboyant Bull, entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night as probably the most recognizable member of the Class of 2011 inductees. And while doing so, he was “dressed to the 9’s” as my sister would say, wearing a sequined jacket emblazoned with his initials and two most famous teams on the back. While eyes were focused on his usual outlandish attire, it was Rodman’s speech that captured the minds of those in attendance.
On and off the court, Rodman’s presence was always felt. Everything he did was in living color: from the tie-dyed hair to damn near cross-dressing in the most flamboyant outfits. But what everyone should remember most is the man’s propensity for finding the ball and him being one of the best defenders the game ever saw. Even though he was only 6′ 7″, “The Worm” finished his career with the best rebound rate (23.4) in NBA history and won multiple titles with the Pistons and Bulls. And we talk about players today defending all five positions, and maybe one or two actually can, but Rodman literally guarded 1-5 and played pretty much prison ball with them.
With Phil Jackson alongside (“only man that would ever cry for [him]”), Rodman gave a very confessional speech addressing the strained relationship with each of his parents individually, admitted that being a less than perfect father to his three children was his biggest shortcoming in life and spoke on how four men – coaches Jackson and Chuck Daly, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss and James Rich, who took in a homeless Rodman – became his father figures, “somebody you can look up to and call any time of day.”
In the end, Rodman stripped away all of the layers and laid it all on the line, just as he was prone to do on the court. “I didn’t play the game for the money, I didn’t play the game to be famous,” he said. “What you see here is more just an illusion that I love to just be an individual that’s very colorful.”