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The Jimi Hendrix of basketball: Dennis Rodman

The Basketball's Disease

The Jimi Hendrix of basketball: Dennis Rodman  The Basketball's Disease

There’s a particular atmosphere in the locker room, it lacks the confident and warlike spirit that always went with Detroit’s Bad Boys during their championship chases. When the referee whistled the end of the last regular season game Dennis wasn’t even on the field and after the shower he didn’t even say hello to his teammates, whom he shared bruises, joy and animosity that signed the two 1989 and 1990 championships. In this season, ended with a negative 40-42 record, the mood is far from high. Dennis literally disappears from the sight and around 1 AM is sitting on the second floor of The Landing Strip Club, with a gun in his hand, ready to shoot himself. Suddenly, someone puts a hand on his shoulder, it’s Craig Sager, the sports broadcaster recently passed away: “This is stupid, why would you do that?”.

Seen from the outside, Dennis Rodman was very alike to Jimi Hendrix, both for attitude and what he's accomplished in sports. A rock star was about to born, but in that moment he was holding a gun in his hand, with a hole inside him.

Try to enter on someone’s mind is very complicated, trying to enter Rodman’s one is way more difficult. Traveling trough his history again, it becomes clear how this represent the result of what he lived and how he's grown. He never had balance in his life and in fact, that wasn’t his only suicide attempt in his life. That time the police found him sleeping in the van and for two times Dennis didn’t found the dark strength to pull the trigger and take his life off.

But where does this discomfort come from?

Dennis was left by his father when he was just five, his two sisters defended him from the thieves when the mother was doing three jobs to make them live. At the high school, he wasn’t so good, he never saw the field with the basketball team and never even got into the soccer one, he ended up working at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. It was a short job, though, because he was arrested for stealing some watches. He has an emotional breakdown and after jail, he ran away from home. Suddenly, though, he grew up and decided to take another chance with basketball. It was the first time he manifested an inhuman joy for that sport. On the field he was everywhere, defense, offense, rebounding.

He arrived in the NBA very soon, winning the Defensive Player of the Year for two times in a row. But, as we said, it didn’t take too long to see him collapsing again. Detroit couldn’t handle him anymore and sent him to San Antonio, to “admiral” David Robinson’s Spurs. He dyed his hair of the same color of Demolition Man’s Wesley Snipes and starts with the tattoos. “The Worm”, as his mom used to call him, become the showman of a scattered city in the state of Texas.

His parties in the city become legendary and during one of these, a Michigan student with an Italian name, Veronica Ciccone, blew a cigaret out on his shoulder to get his attention. The history with Madonna is lit, but it ends badly because she wouldn’t let him use the condom and he was simply terrified about the idea of becoming a father. And then, he didn’t want to be his toyboy.

From the Spurs, he goes to Chicago, where Phil “Zen” Jackson puts him beside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, taking them to win three more NBA rings.

During some of the most famous NBA Finals - those between Utah and Chicago - he didn’t stay in Utah, but he flew to Las Vegas to party and then back in time to play.

With Rodman stats and numbers are unnecessary, what he did on the court was unique, even Jordan knew that. Sure, he just took a second for him to kick a photographer or to get ejected for brawling. Jordan said about him: “He the best rebounder of all time”.

He broke his penis three times, he was fined and arrested because of landing in his home garden with a helicopter, he married himself and dressed several times as a woman for his books’ presentations. He forced Phil Jackson to go with him to AA to get out of alcoholism, he read the newspaper on the bench more than one time, he banged with more than six women simultaneously, he had a Wrestling career, participated to the Big Brother, make love in several movies, maybe he did all things you can do in nine lives. 

During his Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame speech he sobbed, wept and didn’t get to talk, he admitted that without basketball he would likely be dead or in prison. But in the end, he's become one of the most emotional and strong players ever. He never played a game without respecting the love for the game.

«I go out there and get my eyes gouged,

my nose busted, my body slammed.

I love the pain of the game».