During his three-year run with the Bulls, Rodman did things on and off the court that captivated his teammates and coaches, and the man who convinced general manager Jerry Krause to trade for him talked about some of Rodzilla’s compelling gifts.
Dennis Rodman would hit weight room after games
Bulls assistant general manager Jim Stack extensively scouted Rodman when the All-Star played for the San Antonio Spurs. Krause wanted nothing to do with Dennis the Menace, but Stack convinced his boss to trade Will Perdue to the Spurs for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Rodman was a physical specimen. He was the best rebounder in the NBA despite being only 6-foot-7, and Stack was amazed at how the New Jersey native never ran out of energy.
“What was compelling about Dennis is after he would play 45 minutes in a game, he would go in the weight room for an hour-and-a-half,” Stack told the Daily Herald in 2011. “I’d see Dennis in there, and he’s working himself into a lather riding the exercise bike, lifting weights. That always stuck with me. The guy never gets tired. He was a freak like Michael in that respect. He was bionic.”
Rodman not only played a ton of minutes for the Bulls from 1995-96 to 1997-98, but he was also a defensive and rebounding machine despite not making an All-Star team during his run in Chicago.
Dennis Rodman won three rebounding titles with the Bulls
Rodman averaged 34.6 minutes per game in his three seasons with the Bulls. He scored 5.2 points per game and grabbed 15.3 rebounds a night. The five-time champion won three rings in Chicago and three rebounding titles.
Despite being undersized, Rodman mastered the art of rebounding. His infinite amount of energy and understanding of where to position himself when the shot went up helped him become 12th all-time in rebounds per game.
“I used to have my friends late at night, shit, 3:00, 4:00 in the morning, go to the gym. I said, ‘Shoot the ball.’ I said, ‘Shoot over here, shoot over there.’ I’d just sit there, react, react. I practiced a lot about the angle of the ball and trajectory of it,” Rodman said in Episode 3 of The Last Dance docuseries. “So basically, I started learning how to put myself in a position to get the ball. I was pretty much like that rash on players. That rash you can’t ever get rid of.”
Rodman won seven rebounding titles during his Hall of Fame career. It wasn’t just his stout work ethic and gym rat mentality that wowed people in Chicago, though. In fact, the Worm evidently had a high basketball IQ as well.
Demolition Man was a smart basketball player
There’s a reason Michael Jordan called Rodman one of the smartest players he played with in The Last Dance docuseries. It’s easy to gloss over Demolition Man’s basketball IQ since his hair color changed all the time, and he once married himself in a wedding dress. However, he was an integral player on the Bulls’ championship teams in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
“Dennis was a dominant defensive player and what Dennis brought was exactly what we needed, somebody who gave us that edge on the front line,” Steve Kerr said in The Last Dance. Former Bulls guard Jed Buchler also added, “He could guard multiple players. He studied each guy. He knew players’ strengths and weaknesses.”
Rodman changed how players look at their game, how they can impact the outcome despite not scoring but by rebounding and defending. He certainly loved to party, but Rodman’s dedication to basketball and getting better each and every day were never questioned by his teammates or coaches.