When you hear the name Dennis Rodman, it’s easy to focus on the negatives. Away from the court, the forward had a knack for making headlines with some unconventional choices. On the court, you probably remember him as the ultimate pest. The forward would pull down rebounds, play physical defense, and do whatever it took to throw the opposition off their game.
Well, almost anything.
If you take Dominique Wilkens at his word, Rodman wasn’t much of a trash-talker. That reality, however, didn’t stop the Worm from becoming one of the most effective NBA players ever to take the floor.
Dennis Rodman could annoy you, but he wasn’t one to talk a lot of trash
As history tells us, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen both knew a thing or two about trash talk. While it’s easy to think of Dennis Rodman as an antagonist, he was apparently a bit quieter.
“Dennis wasn’t much of a talker as much as he was like a pest,” Dominique Wilkins said of Rodman during an NBA 75 Stories segment. “He would try to get in your head and do stuff to try to get you out of your game. That was his strong suit.”
The Human Highlight Film’s testimony was followed up by an old clip of Rodman staring down the opposition without saying a word.
“All they doing now is trying to mess with me,” the forward explained in a postgame interview. “Try to get in my head. They don’t understand, though, you can’t mess with the master. You can’t mess with the master.”
Wilkins’ statement does help remind us of just how good Rodman was
As the clip indicated, getting under the opposition’s collective skin was a part of Dennis Rodman’s game. Hearing that he wasn’t much of a trash-talker, however, does add some valuable perspective.
As mentioned above, it’s easy to remember all of Rodman’s unique choices and think of him as little more than a sideshow attraction. While the same tendencies can color our perception of his basketball career — you could think that he was an oddball who had the good fortune of playing on some legendary teams — that wasn’t the case.
The forward, for all his quirks, was a uniquely talented player. While he was never much of an offensive threat, Rodman elevated defense and rebounding to an art form. His explanation of how he studied the spin of the ball to know how it would come off the rim, for example, portrays a fine basketball mind rather than a passenger being dragged along by Michael Jordan.
While it’s not exactly the same, you could make the same point about trash talk. Even though some of the NBA’s biggest talents have used verbal warfare, it would have been easy to picture it as another “crutch” in Rodman’s arsenal to compensate for a theoretical lack of talent. Hearing that isn’t the case removes that potential thought process; Rodman then seems like a more active part of his own success.
At the end of the day, Dennis Rodman is a five-time NBA champion with two Defensive Player of the Year titles to his name. With or without trash talk, you don’t earn that resume by simply being a colorful character.