Dennis Rodman was and is a unique individual, to say the least. The NBA Hall of Famer had a remarkable and sometimes troubling career in basketball, one that landed him multiple championships and a reputation as one of the greatest rebounders to ever live. Rodman was never the main piece of any team, but he was always an integral part of any team he played on. That said, he was always in the shadow of one superstar or another, whether that was Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, or David Robinson.
Some basketball fans may not realize Rodman actually logged time in a Los Angeles Lakers’ uniform. At one point, he got so fed up with teammates Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal arguing that he up and left for Las Vegas.
Dennis Rodman’s career and brief stint in Los Angeles
Before Rodman became the ostentatious media figure he’d become, he was a player for the Detroit Pistons who didn’t look or act differently than any other.
As part of the “Bad Boys” era teams, he provided interior defense and rebounding for the likes of Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, and Joe Dumars. He helped those teams to two championships before moving on to San Antonio.
There, he frequently clashed with the organization as he began dying his hair and acting out, making headlines off the court. Eventually, Rodman found the perfect match: he went to the Chicago Bulls in the mid-’90s.
It was the recipe for success: a hands-off coach in Phil Jackson and an alpha dog leader in Jordan kept Rodman in check. They got the best out of him while limiting his off-court distractions. He was a key component of three title teams in Chicago.
After Rodman’s glory years were well behind him, he made his way to Los Angeles when Jackson coached there. There, he played alongside Bryant and O’Neal, who were well established as the team’s top two players.
The Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal feud
While Bryant and O’Neal were successful together on the court, off the court they often bickered and feuded. Whereas in Chicago, there was no doubt who the leader was, Bryant and O’Neal had no such agreement.
The two didn’t get along personally, though it rarely hurt them in the standings. The duo were the two best players at the heart of three NBA championship teams, as well as another team that went to the NBA Finals before losing.
Ultimately, Bryant won out. The Lakers eventually traded O’Neal to Miami for multiple players, and Bryant later won two additional titles with the team on his own. Not to be outdone, O’Neal won a title for the Heat as well.
Dennis Rodman got so sick of Kobe and Shaq’s feud, he took a vacation
Rodman could be called a lot of things during his playing days, but mediator was not one of them. If anything, Rodman was usually the one causing the conflict. So when he witnessed O’Neal and Bryant’s simmering feud get out of hand, he didn’t stick around to see what happened. He left.
According to CBS Sports, Rodman said he went on a trip to Las Vegas during the season with Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss during his time there. He cited Bryant and O’Neal as the main reason why:
“I said, ‘Jerry, I gotta take a break.’ One reason: Shaq and Kobe. I couldn’t deal with those [expletives]. I’m not going to lie to you: I couldn’t deal with them. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not used to this,’ right? I’m used to winning, but I can’t deal with these [expletives expletive-ing] every [expletive] game. Like, [expletive]. I mean, every, I’m like, [expletive], we’re winning, what?
So I go and I say … ‘I’m so used to having calm and serenity and stuff like that.'”
Rodman saying he was used to “serenity” is deliciously ironic, but him dealing with a team feud with a Vegas bender should come as a surprise to no one.