Dennis Rodman talks the modern NBA, advice for today's athletes, and LeBron vs. Jordan
- Dennis Rodman is the subject of a new ESPN documentary.
- Rodman spoke to Business Insider about the documentary, his Hall of Fame career, today's NBA, the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James debates, and more.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Dennis Rodman's impact on the NBA has gone beyond his Hall of Fame career.Though few players in NBA history can match Rodman's defensive tenacity, energy on the glass, and all-around hustle, his outsized personality helped usher in a new era in the NBA. Rodman's colorful hair, tattoos, piercings, and off-the-court, larger-than-life brand, in some ways, paved the way for today's players, many of whom show their personalities and build an off-court brand for themselves.
Note: The below conversation is an excerpt from a longer interview and has been edited for length and clarity.Scott Davis: Does anybody in the NBA today remind you of yourself?
Dennis Rodman: I think the only one that reminds me of myself, that I study, that really wants to win and win and win, I say Draymond Green. Even though I talk s--- about him a lot, I think he's probably the only one. He's more like me. He can shoot a little bit, but he can't shoot, but he does everything else good.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Davis: Going back a moment - why do you talk s--- about Draymond Green?
Rodman: That's just busting his balls. That's just to see what he says about that, you know. I commend him for staying with Golden State for $25 million a year. I said I wish I was like you, Draymond, getting $25 million just to do what you do. I probably got like a quarter of what you've got, what I was doing.Davis: What do you think of the player empowerment era in the NBA, where players are increasingly taking control of their careers?
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Rodman: Well, that's the day and age now. Everyone wants to be their own corporation. Everybody wants to sit there and control it themselves. A lot of people can't do that. I mean, even billionaires can't control themselves. They need people to help them along the way and stuff like that.I think if players can understand that, I have all these opportunities now. Okay great. You need someone to delegate those things for you, and then if you got people that's going to go out there for you, that you trust, then great. Your main job is why you got there: play basketball, play the hardest you can play, and go out there and win for the people and make sure that you are satisfied, too. Go show the people that you can go out there and give 110% every night.
Davis: I'm curious about your response to that because you were a player who really showed your off-court personality and your interests in other subjects. Do you think you in some ways inspired some of today's players?Rodman: Well, I think today's players don't look at me like that. They basically look at me and say, wow, he was the first guy to do all these things that we're doing today. And even now, I've got my own podcast - everybody's got their own podcast - I got this limited edition shirt that's coming out on Instagram and stuff like that. I got all my Instagram followers. Stuff like that. So, I'm doing stuff like that that people don't know about, but these players, they do it 24/7. I did it 24/7, but it wasn't known that you do it 24/7.
My stuff was created by me. I think I'm the only player in the sport that created an image by himself. I didn't have Nike. I didn't have Adidas. I didn't have Puma. I didn't have nobody to help me outside, besides basketball, to create Dennis Rodman's image. That was my image right there. When I was portrayed on TV, you didn't see me endorse anything at all. I created that myself, Dennis Rodman by myself. Today you got people endorsing everybody. I did this by myself until this day I'm still doing it by myself. Don't see me endorsing nothing. I created this s---.
Beth A. Keiser/AP
Rodman: I just give players advice like this: if you build yourself up to go and play a game that you love to play, that you say you love to play, and when you reach the peak of your contract or your years in the NBA, and you finally get what you want, what is left for you to achieve? You got the main thing you want: money. What are you going to do besides money to raise the level of what you want to be now? You want to take care of your family. Great. Got that. What else do you want to do? I wanna win a championship? Great. What else you want to do? [silence] Okay, great.
When you ask those questions of people, they all have nothing else to say about what else they want to do. I want to stay rich. Okay, great. Don't we all? They don't ever say anything that's to [help] the people, you know? I go do this for the homeless. I do this, this, this. Okay, great, you did that for the homeless, stuff like that. Why don't you say, I'm going to give a portion of my money to this charity, this corporation, this organization that's going to help people. Okay, great. Now you're talking my language.Davis: Have players ever sought you out to talk to you about that kind of stuff before?
Rodman: Well, people don't ask me, they just ask me, what can I do to do this? What can I do to do that?
Beth A. Keiser/AP
Rodman: [Laughs] That's kind of funny - he approved of me. Yeah, he pretty much did approve of me to be there.I figured that he was missing one element to win a championship with the Bulls. And Scottie Pippen had a lot to do with it, too. I think that he believed in me. I think it took him a little time to warm up to me. I think halfway through the season; I think he would have said, well, we got something here. This is what we've been missing. And they believed in me. And so basically, I think that he had the confidence in me to keep me on the team and say, great, you're here, man. Let's go win this thing. And that's all he had to say to me.
Davis: What do you think when people debate Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James as the greatest player ever?
Rodman: LeBron is not a Michael Jordan type. LeBron's a different type of player. I think LeBron's between Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen put together, you know? I think LeBron is more like brute strength, stuff like that. And Michael Jordan's more like a racing car. Dancing with the ball, literally dancing with the ball. So smooth, so at ease.
Beth A. Keiser/AP
So, I think that LeBron has all the great skills, great athlete, probably one of the top five players that ever played a game. But you know, Michael - Michael was different. Michael was different.
Davis: Do you ever think about how you'd play in today's NBA? You already put up some pretty incredible numbers when you were playing, and now the game is even faster, and there's probably more opportunities and stuff. What do you think you'd be like today?Rodman: Well, number one, I mean, a lot of damn money [laughs]. That's just real s--- right there. Two, I'd be the only one playing defense and rebounding like hell. I think I'd average over 20 rebounds per game.
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