This is the second part of a five part series as I unveil an all-time starting line-up of NBA Villains.
People today think Rasheed Wallace is crazy, but he looks like a saint compared to the one and only Dennis Rodman.
It’s no surprise that another “Bad Boy” Piston made it onto this list, but Rodman’s villain career didn’t really take-off until he left the Pistons.
“The Worm” was relatively calm until he started dating the “Material Girl” as a San Antonio Spur. Madonna introduced him to the world of piercings, tattoos, and outrageous hairstyles and turned Rodman into a highly entertaining act.
But Rodman’s off the court antics would escalate into another level when he joined the Bulls where he achieved his greatest success and notoriety.
Jordan and Co. did their best to keep Dennis in-line, but even the greatest player ever couldn’t stop Dennis from being himself.
Before Zidane’s head-butt heard-around-the-world, Dennis launched an infamous head-butt into NBA ref Ted Bernhardt. Bernhardt must have said something vicious about Rodman’s then-girlfriend Carmen Electra, but unfortunately league officials didn’t see it that way.
In ’97, a sideline photographer’s camera tripped Rodman, causing him to sprain his ankle. Rodman, understandably upset, tried to kick the camera, but missed and accidentally might have hit the photographer near the family jewels.
The photographer, Eugene Amos, seized the opportunity for a lawsuit, and put on a delayed Oscar-worthy performance that included being carried out on a stretcher. It earned Rodman an 11-game suspension and he had to pay Amos, $200,000 in a settlement.
It wasn’t just the on-court incidents that led to Rodman’s legacy, off the court his escapades included staging a fake wedding to himself, dressing up in drag at various events, and flying to Vegas before NBA finals. All this made Rodman the antithesis of David Stern's vision of an NBA player.
Looking past all the antics, no one can deny Rodman’s place in NBA history as one of the best, if not the best rebounder in NBA history and one of the greatest defensive players ever.
He led the league in RPG for a record seven straight years, was a 7-time NBA All-Defensive First team selection, and was an integral part of five championship teams.
But Dennis was a true villain because of his uncanny ability to get under the skin of his opponents, which included Shawn Kemp, Shaquille O’Neal, and my favorite, driving Karl Malone insane in consecutive NBA Finals. Malone and Rodman took their mutual hatred all the way to the wrestling ring, an all-time classic tv moment.
A two-time Defensive Player of the year, he had the versatility to guard Jordan in the 80’s and Shaq in the 90’s. Rodman definitely had fun off the court, but he always came to play come game time. His hustle and playful nature made him a fan-favorite for any team he played for.
Few things are definite in life, but there truly will never be another player like the Dennis Rodman in NBA history.
Next: SF, Ron Artest