NBA

Former NBA star Rodman: "A lot of people thought I would be dead at 40"

Five-time NBA champion Dennis Rodman, who recently turned 60, has spoken to US media outlet WSVN 7News about reaching the milestone.

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Former NBA star Rodman: "People thought I would be dead at 40"
JASON LEE REUTERS

He has never left anyone indifferent. Neither during his illustrious career as a player, nor in retirement in the south of Florida, where he leads a less intense, if never pedestrian, way of life. Former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman was always a special player - probably one of the most memorable in the history of the NBA, both for what did on the court and off it. A pop icon never far away from the cameras’ gaze, with a basketball resumé that reads: five championship rings, twice an All-Star, eight times in the All-Defensive Team, twice Defensive Player of the Year… "For a minute, I was more famous than Michael Jordan in Chicago," Rodman has even said. Now 60, his interviews with the media continue to offer up headline upon headline.

Rodman: "I'm surprised I'm still here"

And his latest, given to WSVN 7News, is just as eye-catching as the rest. "I’m surprised I’m still here," Rodman told the Miami-based Fox affiliate. "Because a lot of people thought I would be dead at 40, 45, 50, 55 and I turned 60 and I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m still here.’ I said, ‘Someone has a hand on my shoulder saying you have a lot left to fulfill something for people around the world.'"

Jordan: "I never thought he'd see 40"

During his playing days, his lifestyle was fast and furious. Most notably, he hotfooted it to Las Vegas for a night out after the Bulls lost Game 4 of the 1997 NBA Finals to the Utah Jazz - and was then back in training first thing the next morning, having barely slept. Such escapades led Jordan, who would star in his legendary ‘Flu Game’ in the next instalment of the series against the Jazz, to be among those to doubt Rodman's longevity. "In all honesty, playing with Dennis and [seeing] the lifestyle he lived, I never thought he’d see 40 because he burned the candle at both ends," Jordan told an ESPN documentary about his former team-mate, adding that he was both impressed and concerned by his ability to "run like a gazelle" in practice after partying the night before.

That was just one of many documentaries filmed, and words written, about Rodman. In The Last Dance, he also takes a central role, appearing in all his splendour in the series about Jordan and the Bulls’ 1998 NBA Finals win. He not only offered insights into now he perfected the art of rebounding, a skill in which he served up repeated masterclasses as a player, but also looked back on some of his most memorable antics away from the court. To this day, he and Jordan remain friends. “Michael is in Jupiter right now,” Rodman told WSVN 7News. “He’s got his own golf course [...], hasn’t invited me yet but I see Michael every once in a while. He’s still Michael.”

Rodman at a promotional event in Florida this month.

Alongside Jordan at the Bulls, Rodman won three of his five NBA championship rings. He claimed the other two with the Detroit Pistons, as part of a team dubbed the ‘Bad Boys’. He also had spells at NBA franchises such as the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers, and was linked with moves to many others, including the Miami Heat. Former Heat coach Pat Riley went from describing Rodman as "the most ridiculous thing to ever come along in the game" to considering signing him, but the transfer didn’t happen. "Pat Riley is too cool,” Rodman says. "He is too cool for cool. You know, a lot of teams wanted me in 1999 because I still had some gas in the tank. Pat got too much pride. He has way too much pride. He said, ‘Oh Dennis is too much for us, we can’t handle him.’ If you can’t handle me, how did you handle other people that played for Miami? There were a lot more people that were way worse than me. I’m a winner, brother. I’ve been a winner for a long damn time. I earned that spot so I wish he would have pulled that trigger."