Rodman was a dominant defender and an eccentric character during his playing days, and he excelled at both. And although he eventually earned induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Rodman spent his playing career with some interesting views on his role in the sports world.
Dennis Rodman didn’t consider himself to be an athlete
Athletes at all levels, ranging from high school to the pros, are often asked about being role models and leaders both with their own teams and to the fans in the stands.
Consider Dennis Rodman to be an exception to the norm, then. In a candid interview with Playboy in 1997, Rodman shot down the idea of him being a role model.
In fact, Rodman didn’t even consider himself to be a professional athlete. He was athletic, yes, but Rodman saw a distinct line between being talented and being an athlete.
“Athletes are boring, typical, and predictable,” Rodman explained. “I can’t even watch them talk on TV. You know, the scene after the game.”
Rodman then elaborated in a way that only he could.
“The difference between me and athletes is, they want to be athletes. They even want to be coaches when their careers are over. I am above all that.”Dennis Rodman
Rodman has never held back, and that answer remains fascinating nearly 25 years later. Despite remaining popular and a trendsetter, there is an apparent reason why Rodman never really embraced sponsorships or advertisements.
Rodman still earned induction into the Hall of Fame
Again, it is important to note that Rodman drew a line between being athletic enough to play in the pros and being considered a professional athlete, or at least what he believed the term truly meant.
Rodman has always gone against the norm in that regard, and it didn’t stop him from eventually earning induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The story of basketball cannot be told without Rodman, from his five championship rings to his bright clothing.
What is interesting in hindsight, if only based on those comments in 1997, is that Rodman never publicly dismissed the idea of entering The Hall. Those museums exist mostly to profit off the history of those professional athletes.
That’s not to criticize Rodman or say that he shouldn’t have accepted his plaque, of course. But based on Rodman’s overall ideas, it wouldn’t have been too surprising if he had passed up enshrinement.
Rodman remains a larger-than-life figure
It has been nearly 25 years since Rodman made those comments to Playboy, and he hasn’t slowed down at all.
Rodman still has his piercings and bright clothing. The NBA legend is still doing the occasional interview and, before the global pandemic, still took the occasional trip to North Korea and visiting Kim Jong-un.
For someone who never thought of themselves as a professional athlete, Rodman has certainly reaped the benefits that came along with it.