Dennis Keith Rodman (born May 13, 1961) is an American retired professional basketball player who played for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was nicknamed "the Worm" and is famous for his fierce defensive and rebounding abilities.
During college Rodman worked at a summer youth basketball camp, where he befriended camper Bryne Rich, who was shy and withdrawn due to a hunting accident in which he mistakenly shot and killed his best friend. The two became almost inseparable and formed a close bond. Rich invited Rodman to his rural Oklahoma home; at first, Rodman was not well-received by the Riches because he was black. But the Riches were so grateful to him for bringing their son out of his shell that they were able to set aside their prejudices. Although Rodman had severe family and personal issues himself, he "adopted" the Riches as his own in 1982 and went from the city life to "driving a tractor and messing with cows". Though Rodman credited the Riches as his "surrogate family" that helped him through college, as of 2013 he had stopped communicating with the Rich family for reasons unknown to them.
During the 1990–91 season, Rodman finally established himself as the starting small forward of the Pistons. He played such strong defense that the NBA stated he "could shut down any opposing player, from point guard to center". After coming off the bench for most of his earlier years, he finally started in 77 of the 82 regular season games, averaged 8.2 points and 12.5 rebounds and won his second Defensive Player of the Year Award. In the 1991 playoffs, however, the Pistons were swept by the championship-winning Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. It was the 1991–92 season where Rodman made a remarkable leap in his rebounding, collecting an astounding 18.7 rebounds per game (1,530 in total), winning his first of seven consecutive rebounding crowns, along with scoring 9.8 points per game, and making his first All-NBA Team. His 1,530 rebounds (the most since Wilt Chamberlain's 1,572 in the 1971–1972 season) have never been surpassed since then; the best mark not set by Rodman is by Kevin Willis, who grabbed 1,258 boards that same season. Willis lamented that Rodman had an advantage in winning the rebounding title with his lack of offensive responsibilities. In a March 1992 game, Rodman totaled a career high 34 rebounds. However, the aging Pistons were eliminated by the up-and-coming New York Knicks in the first round of the 1992 playoffs.
From the beginning of his career Rodman was known for his defensive hustle, which was later accompanied by his rebounding prowess. In Detroit, he was mainly played as a small forward, and his usual assignment was to neutralize the opponent's best player; Rodman was so versatile that he could guard centers, forwards, or guards equally well and won two NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards. From 1991 on, he established himself as one of the best rebounders of all time, averaging at least 15 rebounds per game in six of the next seven years. Playing power forward as member of the Spurs and the Bulls, he had a historical outburst in the 1996 NBA Finals: he twice snared 11 offensive rebounds, equalling an all-time NBA record. In addition, he had a career-high 34-rebound game on March 4, 1992. Rodman's rebounding prowess with Detroit and San Antonio was also aided by his decreased attention to defensive positioning and helping teammates on defense. Daly said Rodman was selfish about rebounding, but deemed him a hard worker and coachable. Rodman's defensive intensity returned while with Chicago.
Rodman experienced an unhappy childhood and was shy and introverted in his early years. After aborting a suicide attempt in 1993, he reinvented himself as a "bad boy" and became notorious for numerous controversial antics. He repeatedly dyed his hair in artificial colors, had many piercings and tattoos, and regularly disrupted games by clashing with opposing players and officials. He famously wore a wedding dress to promote his 1996 autobiography Bad As I Wanna Be. Rodman pursued a high-profile affair with singer Madonna and was briefly married to actress Carmen Electra. Rodman also attracted international attention for his visits to North Korea and his subsequent befriending of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2013.
Rodman experienced a tough loss when coach Chuck Daly, whom he had admired as a surrogate father, resigned in May; Rodman skipped the preseason camp and was fined $68,000. The following 1992–93 season was even more tumultuous. Rodman and Annie Bakes, the mother of his daughter Alexis, were divorcing after a short marriage, an experience which left him traumatized. The Pistons won only 40 games and missed the 1993 playoffs entirely. One night in February 1993, Rodman was found asleep in his car with a loaded rifle. Four years later in his biography As Bad As I Wanna Be, he confessed having thought about suicide and described that night as an epiphany: "I decided that instead [of killing myself] I was gonna kill the impostor that was leading Dennis Rodman to a place he didn't want to go ... So I just said, 'I'm going to live my life the way I want to live it and be happy doing it.' At that moment I tamed [sic] my whole life around. I killed the person I didn't want to be." The book was later adapted for a TV movie Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story. Although he had three years and $11.8 million remaining on his contract, Rodman demanded a trade. On October 1, 1993, the Pistons dealt him to the San Antonio Spurs.
In 1996, Rodman had his own MTV reality talk show called The Rodman World Tour, which featured him in a series of odd-ball situations. That same year, Rodman had two appearances in releases by rock band Pearl Jam. A Polaroid picture of Rodman's eyeball is on the cover of the album No Code, and "Black, Red, Yellow", B-side of its lead single "Hail, Hail", was written about Rodman and has him contribute a voice message.
Although struggling with calf problems early in the season, Rodman grabbed 20 or more rebounds 11 times and had his first triple-double against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 16, 1996 scoring 10 points and adding 21 rebounds and 10 assists; by playing his trademark tough defense, he joined Jordan and Pippen in the All-NBA Defense First Team. Ever controversial, Rodman made negative headlines after a head butt of referee Ted Bernhardt during a game in New Jersey on March 16, 1996; he was suspended for six games and fined $20,000, a punishment that was criticized as too lenient by the local press.
In the 1996–97 season, Rodman won his sixth rebounding title in a row with 16.7 boards per game, along with 5.7 points per game, but failed to rank another All-Defensive Team call-up. However, he made more headlines for his notorious behavior. On January 15, 1997, he was involved in an incident during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. After tripping over cameraman Eugene Amos, Rodman kicked Amos in the groin. Though he was not assessed a technical foul at the time, he ultimately paid Amos a $200,000 settlement, and the league suspended Rodman for 11 games without pay. Thus, he effectively lost $1 million. Missing another three games to suspensions, often getting technical fouls early in games and missing an additional 13 matches due to knee problems, Rodman was not as effective in the 1997 playoffs, in which the Bulls reached the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. He struggled to slow down Jazz power forward Karl Malone, but did his share to complete the six-game Bulls victory.
Rodman took up his hobby of professional wrestling seriously and appeared on the edition of March 10 of Monday Nitro with his friend Hollywood Hulk Hogan in World Championship Wrestling (WCW). At the March 1997 Uncensored event, he appeared as a member of the nWo. His first match was at the July 1997 Bash at the Beach event, where he teamed with Hogan in a loss to Lex Luger and The Giant. At the August 1997 Road Wild event, Rodman appeared as the Impostor Sting hitting Luger with a baseball bat to help Hogan win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
On offense, Rodman's output was mediocre. He averaged 11.6 points per game in his second season, but his average steadily dropped: in the three championship seasons with the Bulls, he averaged five points per game and connected on less than half of his field goal attempts. His free throw shooting (lifetime average: .584) was considered a big liability: on December 29, 1997, Bubba Wells of the Dallas Mavericks committed six intentional fouls against him in only three minutes, setting the record for the fastest foul out in NBA history. The intention was to force him to attempt free throws, which in theory would mean frequent misses and easy ball possession without giving up too many points. However, this plan backfired, as Rodman hit 9 of the 12 attempts. This was Dallas coach Don Nelson's early version of what would later develop into the famous "Hack-a-Shaq" method that would be implemented against Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard, and other poor free throw shooters.
A year later, he made his feature film debut in the action film Double Team alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mickey Rourke. The film was critically panned and his performance earned him three Golden Raspberry Awards: Worst New Star, Worst Supporting Actor and Worst Screen Couple (shared with Van Damme). Rodman starred in Simon Sez, a 1999 action/comedy and co-starred with Tom Berenger in a 2000 action film about skydiving titled Cutaway. In 1998, he joined the cast of the syndicated TV show Special Ops Force, playing 'Deke' Reynolds, a flamboyant but skilled ex-Army helo pilot and demolitions expert.
After the 1997–98 season, where Rodman and the Chicago Bulls defeated Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals, Rodman and Malone squared off again, this time in a tag team match at the July 1998 Bash at the Beach event. He fought alongside Hulk Hogan, and Malone tagged along with Diamond Dallas Page. In a poorly received match, the two power forwards exchanged "rudimentary headlocks, slams and clotheslines" for 23 minutes. Rodman bested Malone again as he and Hogan picked up the win.
Rodman's first wife was Annie Bakes, with whom he had a daughter named Alexis (born 1988). They divorced in the early 1990s. Rodman married model Carmen Electra in November 1998 at the Little Chapel of the Flowers in Las Vegas, Nevada. Electra filed for divorce in March 1999.
In 1999 Rodman met Michelle Moyer, with whom he had a son, Dennis Jr. ("D. J.", born 2000) and a daughter, Trinity (born 2001). Moyer and Rodman married in 2003 on his 42nd birthday. Michelle Rodman filed for divorce in 2004, although the couple spent several years attempting to reconcile. The marriage was officially dissolved in 2012, when Michelle again petitioned the court to grant a divorce. It was reported that Rodman owed $860,376 in child and spousal support.
Rodman returned to WCW in 1999 and feuded with Randy Savage. This culminated in a match at Road Wild which Rodman lost.
After the 1997–98 season, the Bulls started a massive rebuilding phase, largely at the behest of then-general manager Jerry Krause. Head coach Phil Jackson and several members of the team left via free agency or retirement, including Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, and Jud Buechler. Rodman was released by the Bulls on January 21, 1999, before the start of the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season. With his sister acting as his agent at the time, Rodman joined the Los Angeles Lakers, for a pro-rated salary for the remainder of the 1998–1999 season. With the Lakers he only played in 23 games and was released.
On November 5, 1999, Rodman and his then-wife, Carmen Electra, were charged with misdemeanors after police were notified of a domestic disturbance. Each posted a bail worth $2,500 and were released with a temporary restraining order placed on them.
In December 1999, Rodman was arrested for drunk driving and driving without a valid driver's license. In July 2000, Rodman pleaded guilty to both charges and was ordered to pay $2,000 in fines as well as attend a three-month treatment program.
On July 30, 2000, Rodman competed on the i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling Rodman Down Under pay-per-view event. He fought against i-Generation champion Curt Hennig in an Australian Outback match; Hennig won the match by disqualification. Following the match, Rodman refrained from wrestling at the top level and retired.
In 2002, he was arrested for interfering with police investigating a code violation at a restaurant he owned; the charges were eventually dropped. After settling down in Newport Beach, California, the police appeared over 70 times at his home because of loud parties. In early 2003, Rodman was arrested and charged with domestic violence at his home in Newport Beach for allegedly assaulting his then-fiancee.
After a longer hiatus, Rodman returned to play basketball for the Long Beach Jam of the newly formed American Basketball Association during the 2003–04 season, with hopes of being called up to the NBA midseason. While he did not get that wish that season, he did help the Jam win the ABA championship in their inaugural season. He also played in Mexico, with Fuerza Regia in 2004. In the following 2004–05 season, he signed with the ABA's Orange County Crush and the following season with the league's Tijuana Dragons. In November 2005, he played one match for Torpan Pojat of the Finland's basketball league, Korisliiga.
In April 2004, Rodman pleaded nolo contendere to drunk driving in Las Vegas. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to serve 30 days of home detention. On April 30, 2008, Rodman was arrested following a domestic violence incident at a Los Angeles hotel. On June 24, 2008, he pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor spousal battery charges. He received three years of probation and was ordered to undergo one year of domestic violence counseling as well as 45 hours of community service, which were to involve some physical labor activities.
In 2005, Rodman became the first man to pose naked for PETA's advertisement campaign "Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur". That same year, Rodman traveled to Finland, at first, he was present at Sonkajärvi in July in a wife-carrying contest. However, he resigned from the contest due to health problems. Also in 2005, Rodman published his second autobiography, I Should Be Dead By Now; he promoted the book by sitting in a coffin.
Rodman became Commissioner of the Lingerie Football League in 2005.
Rodman has also appeared in several reality shows: in January 2006, Rodman appeared on the fourth version of Celebrity Big Brother in the UK, and on July 26, 2006, in the UK series Love Island as a houseguest contracted to stay for a week. Finally, he appeared on the show Celebrity Mole on ABC. He wound up winning the $222,000 grand prize.
The return to the NBA never materialized, but on January 26, 2006, it was announced that Rodman had signed a one-game "experiment" deal for the UK basketball team Brighton Bears of the British Basketball League to play Guildford Heat on January 28 and went on to play three games for the Bears. In spring 2006, he played two exhibition games in the Philippines along with NBA ex-stars Darryl Dawkins, Kevin Willis, Calvin Murphy, Otis Birdsong and Alex English. On April 27, they defeated a team of former Philippine Basketball Association stars in Mandaue City, Cebu and Rodman scored five points and grabbed 18 rebounds. On May 1, 2006, Rodman's team played their second game and lost to the Philippine national basketball team 110–102 at the Araneta Coliseum, where he scored three points and recorded 16 rebounds.
In 2008, Rodman joined as a spokesman for a sports website OPENSports.com, the brainchild of Mike Levy, founder and former CEO of CBS Sportsline.com. Rodman also writes a blog and occasionally answers members' questions for OPEN Sports.
Rodman entered an outpatient rehab center in Florida in May 2008. In May 2009, his behavior on Celebrity Apprentice led to an intervention which included Phil Jackson as well as Rodman's family and other friends. Rodman initially refused to enter rehabilitation because he wanted to attend the Celebrity Apprentice reunion show. In 2009, Rodman agreed to appear on the third season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Rodman remained a patient at the Pasadena Recovery Center for the 21-day treatment cycle. A week after completion he entered a sober-living facility in the Hollywood Hills, which was filmed for the second season of Sober House. During episode seven of Sober House, Rodman was shown being reunited with his mother Shirley, from whom he had been estranged for seven years. During this same visit Shirley also met Rodman's two children for the first time. On January 10, 2010, on the same day that Celebrity Rehab premiered, Rodman was removed from an Orange County, California restaurant for disruptive behavior. In March 2012, Rodman's financial advisor said, "In all honesty, Dennis, although a very sweet person, is an alcoholic. His sickness impacts his ability to get work."
In 2009, he appeared as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice. Throughout the season, each celebrity raised money for a charity of their choice; Rodman selected the Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Orleans. He was the fifth contestant eliminated, on March 29, 2009.
Rodman played at the small forward position in his early years before becoming a power forward. He earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times and won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award twice. He also led the NBA in rebounds per game for a record seven consecutive years and won five NBA championships. His biography at NBA.com states that he is "arguably the best rebounding forward in NBA history". On April 1, 2011, the Pistons retired Rodman's No. 10 jersey, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later that year.
On April 4, 2011, it was announced that Rodman would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 2013, he appeared again as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice. He raised $20,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and was the sixth contestant eliminated, on April 7, 2013.
On February 26, 2013, Rodman made a trip to North Korea with Vice Media correspondent Ryan Duffy to host basketball exhibitions. He met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Rodman and his travel party were the first Americans to meet Kim. He later said that Kim was "a friend for life" and suggested that President Barack Obama "pick up the phone and call" Kim, since the two leaders were basketball fans. On May 7, after reading an article in The Seattle Times, Rodman sent out a tweet asking Kim to release American prisoner Kenneth Bae, who had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea. Kim released Bae the following year.
In March 2013, Rodman arrived at the Vatican City during voting in the papal conclave for the selection of a new pope. The trip was organized by an Irish gambling company. "I'm just promoting this website. It's a gambling website, and it's about people who are going to bet on the new pope, and if he's black, you get your money back", said Rodman.
In July 2013, Rodman joined Premier Brands to launch and promote Bad Boy Vodka.
In July 2013, Rodman told Sports Illustrated: "My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries. Why it's been left to me to smooth things over, I don't know. Dennis Rodman, of all people. Keeping us safe is really not my job; it's the black guy's [Obama's] job. But I'll tell you this: If I don't finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something's seriously wrong." On September 3, 2013, Rodman flew to Pyongyang for another meeting with Kim Jong-un. He said that Kim has a daughter named Kim Ju-ae, and that he is a "great dad". He also noted that he planned to train the North Korean national basketball team. He stated that he is "trying to open Obama's and everyone's minds" and encouraged Obama to reach out to Kim Jong-un.
In December 2013, Rodman announced that he would visit North Korea again. He also said that he has plans to take a number of former NBA players with him for an exhibition basketball tour. According to Rory Scott, a spokesman for the exhibitions' sponsoring organization, Rodman planned to visit December 18–21 and train the North Korean team in preparation for January games. The games were scheduled for January 8 (Kim Jong-un's birthday) and January 10, 2014. Included on the U.S. exhibition team were Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, Vin Baker, Craig Hodges, Doug Christie, Sleepy Floyd, Charles D. Smith, and four streetballers. Rodman departed from Beijing on January 6. Among his entourage was Irish media personality Matt Cooper, who had interviewed Rodman a number of times on the radio.
Rodman made comments on January 7, 2014 during a CNN interview implying that Kenneth Bae was at fault for his imprisonment. The remarks were widely reported in other media outlets and provoked a storm of criticism. Two days later, Rodman apologized for his comments, saying that he had been drinking and under pressure. He added that he "should know better than to make political statements". Some members of Congress, the NBA, and human rights groups suggested that Rodman had become a public relations stunt for the North Korean government. On May 2, 2016, Kenneth Bae credited Rodman with his early release. He said that Rodman's rant raised awareness of his case and that he wanted to thank him for his expedited release.
On January 15, 2014, Rodman again entered a rehabilitation facility to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. This came on the heels of a well-publicized trip to North Korea where his agent, Darren Prince, reported he had been drinking heavily and to an extent "that none of us had seen before."
On July 24, 2015, Rodman publicly endorsed Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. That same month, Rodman sent out an endorsement tweet, stating, "Donald Trump has been a great friend for many years. We don't need another politician, we need a businessman like Mr. Trump! Trump 2016." Rodman and then U.S. Presidential hopeful Trump had previously appeared together on Celebrity Apprentice.
On November 21, 2016, Rodman was charged with causing a hit and run accident, lying to police, and driving without a license following an incident on Interstate 5 near Santa Ana, California, in July.
In 2017, Rodman was featured on the alternative R&B/hip-hop duo Mansionz self-titled album Mansionz. He provides vocals on the single "Dennis Rodman" and uncredited vocals on "i'm thinking about horses".
On June 13, 2017, Rodman returned to North Korea on what was initially described as a sports-related visit to the country. "My purpose is to go over there and try to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea," he said. He added that he hoped to accomplish "something that's pretty positive" during the visit. He met with national Olympic athletes and basketball players, viewed a men's basketball practice, and visited a state-run orphanage. He was not able to meet with Kim Jong Un, but met instead with the nation's Minister of Sports and gave him several gifts for Kim Jong Un, including two signed basketball jerseys, two soap sets, and a copy of Donald Trump's 1987 book The Art of the Deal. Other gifts believed to be intended for the leader's daughter included a Where's Waldo? book and a jigsaw puzzle of a mermaid.
In December 2017, Columbia University professor of neurobiology Joseph Terwilliger, who has accompanied Rodman to North Korea, argued that "While I don't suspect that very many Americans would have chosen him to be an emissary or international goodwill ambassador, Dennis has had a long friendship with Mr. Trump and has also developed a very cordial friendship with Mr. Kim. In this tense climate, as we stand at a perilous crossing, Mr. Rodman's unique position as a friend to the leaders of both U.S. and North Korea could provide a much-needed bridge to help resolve the current nuclear standoff.
Rodman visited North Korea again in June 2018. "I'm just happy to be a part of" the 2018 North Korea–United States summit, he said, "because I think I deserve it."
Rodman's son D. J. started playing college basketball for Washington State in 2019. His sister, Trinity, signed to play for the Cougars women's soccer team starting in 2020.
In May 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported that Newport Beach yoga studio owner Ali Shah accused Rodman of helping steal over $3,500 worth of items from the studio's reception area, including a 400-pound decorative geode. Rodman disputed the account, claiming the owner told him "Dennis, get anything you want." No charges had been filed at the time of reporting.
On October 18, 2019, Rodman was charged with misdemeanor battery after slapping a man at the Buddha Sky Bar in Delray Beach, Florida.