Its rare that one person inspires a list of names connected to him that range from the “Greatest-Of-All-Time” NBA star to the biggest name in WWE history to an international pop icon to a playboy centerfold to BOTH the outgoing and incoming President of the United States and finally to a North Korean dictator.
But Dennis Rodman was always a little bit… different. There was the multi-colored hair, the wedding dress outfit (to marry himself), the eye and nose piercings, and more. There were reality TV appearances on Celebrity Rehab, Sober House, and The Apprentice. And yes, there was even an unofficial ambassadorship to a communist country heretofore closed to Americans.
And, of course, on the court there were five NBA championship rings, and in 2011, an induction into the NBA Hall-of-Fame.
Rodman has always, and continues, to fascinate us. To entertain us. And, frankly, to divide us, both as fans, players on his team and off, and, it seems, just about everyone that he came in in any kind of personal contact with.
With that in mind… Here are 8 People Who Love Dennis Rodman And 7 Who Hate Him
15 Love - Lonn Reisman
Love Dennis Rodman or hate him, we have Lonn Reisman to thank for the fact that we know who he is today. In 1982, Reisman, then a a young assistant coach at the hardly heralded Southeastern Oklahoma University, was scouting the Cooke County Community College team in North Texas, when he saw a 6-foot-7 lanky kid with an endless motor who was dominating on both ends of the floor. Rodman, it turned out, hadn’t played ball until high school and only started taking the sport seriously when at age 20, while working as a janitor, a sudden growth spurt added about a foot to his frame.
Still, Reisman doubted he could recruit the under-the-radar Rodman to such a low-level program as his own, so he left without trying. When he returned a month later, unable to get the kid out of his mind, he learned Rodman had dropped out after only a semester. “It took me a month to find where he was and track him down, but I did it, and I stayed relentless,” Reisman said. Rodman averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds in his first season Southeastern Oklahoma U and took off from there. During the NAIA tournament of his senior year, Reisman caught the attention of longtime NBA scouting director Marty Blake. "After he watched him play,” he recounted, “Marty called and said, ‘he is a pro prospect, Lonn.’” Rodman would go on to be drafted in the first round by the Detroit Pistons in 1986, with whom he would win two championships as he launched his hall-of-fame career.
And the first person Rodman thanked during his hall-of-fame acceptance speech? Lonn Reisman.
14 Hate - Eugene Amos
In January of 1997, Dennis Rodman agreed to pay $200,000 to an in-house Minnesota Timberwolves camera-man named Eugene Amos. An incident occurred during a game with Rodman’s Chicago Bulls at Minnesota’s Target Center in which he stumbled out-of-bounds and toppled over camera operators, at which point Amos had turned his camera to face him. Rodman proceeded to kick him in the groin, and Amos lost consciousness during a seven minute delay in which he had to be carried off on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital. Rodman was suspended for 11 games (one of the longest in NBA history), losing over $1 million in salary for his time missed.
For his part, Rodman said “I thought I had kicked him in the thigh, and all of a sudden he went back. When I said, 'What's wrong with you? I'm sorry I hit you,' then all of a sudden it was, 'Get away from me.' All of a sudden he passed out. I'm like, yeah, right. It's one thing to get hurt, but don't pretend you're more seriously hurt than you are.”
Amos, who gained enough notoriety for the incident at the time to be featured in an SNL sketch (portrayed by Tim Meadows), was noted to still be working as a camera-man for the same local NBC affiliate in recent reporting.
13 Love - Kenneth Bae
South Korean-born U.S. Citizen Kenneth Bae was imprisoned for over two years in North Korea before finally returning home in late 2014. In his first live interview since his release on CNN, Bae credited none other than Dennis Rodman for his new-found freedom. Rodman had previously tweeted “calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him ‘Kim,’ to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose.” However, after a visit to see “very good guy” Kin Jong-un in January of 2014, Rodman attacked Bae, yelling “can you understand what he did in this country?… you tell me, you tell me, why is he held captive?… I don’t give a sh-t, I don’t give a rat’s ass what the hell you think.”
He later apologized to Bae’s family and admitted he was intoxicated during the CNN interview, saying “at this point, I should know better than to make political statements.” Bae saw it differently though claiming “because of his rant, the media attention on my plight was increased. If I meet him someday, I’ll just want to say ‘thank you’ for what he has done, it really brought international attention [to] my plight.”
For more on Rodman’s incredible journey towards becoming on a first-name basis with the North Korean dictator… see #3 on this list!
12 Hate - Michelle Moyer
After their 2012 divorce, it was revealed that a self-proclaimed “broke” Dennis Rodman owed his ex-wife Michelle Moyer nearly $1 million in child-support and alimony. The couple had been married for five years and had two children together but separated shortly after a 2008 incident in which Rodman pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor spousal battery charge and was sentenced to one year of domestic violence counseling and three years probation.
Rodman got kicked off of Celebrity Apprentice after their split when the entire “board room” agreed he had a drinking problem. Moyer, for her part, also emerged in the public eye in 2009 for bragging to friends that the Dr. Phil Show had bribed her with gifts, a scholarship fund for their kids, a car, and even a job offer for an appearance in which she pleaded with Rodman to stop drinking (charges which the show denied).
Rodman had been married twice previously, including to Baywatch Babe and Playboy Centerfold Carmen Electra (see #6.)
11 Love - Phil Jackson
“Dennis put his heart into it,” Phil Jackson recalled of his three championship seasons as Rodman’s coach for the Chicago Bulls. “He was a very capable triangle player, a good passer. He was an enigma, really soft hearted, a kind, good guy, yet reluctant to talk in any conversational setting.” The man who coached Scottie Pippin and, ahem, Michael Jordan, also once gave a speech at the University of North Dakota where he said none other than Rodman was the greatest athlete he ever coached. “[Rodman] could probably play a 48-minute game and play the 48th minute stronger than the first minute of the game," Jackson said. "He was that terrific an athlete.”
Of course, Jackson also remembers Rodman’s more… eccentric… behavior. “Thirty minutes before tip we'd meet (with players). He'd come in, take a shower and sit at his locker naked with a towel over his head. All the presentations, the (scouting) video going on he'd have a towel over his head.”
10 Hate - Ted Bernhardt
In a 1996 home game during his first season with the Chicago Bulls, Rodman was ejected after receiving his second technical foul of the first quarter. He proceeded to head butt referee Ted Bernhardt just above the left eye, before ripping off his shirt, knocking over a water cooler, and storming off the court. The league suspended him six games without pay for his actions and he was fined $20,000. In a post-game interview, Rodman then accused the league of singling him out, criticizing both Commissioner David Stern and Rod Thorn, the NBA’s vice president for operations. “If you want to suspend me, suspend me,” he said. “They make an example out of Dennis Rodman. I don't care. This is really out of hand. It's getting really ridiculous, picking on me.”
Interestingly, later in his career, Ted Bernhardt would go on to be one of the referees working Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals of the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings in which it was alleged that the game was rigged.
9 Love - Scottie Pippen
“I always had a great personal relationship with Dennis and we still do to this day,” Scottie Pippen wrote in a 2010 op-ed on NBA.com campaigning for his former teammate’s inclusion in the Naismith Hall-of-Fame. “We enjoyed a lot of great memories together. What people don’t realize about Dennis is that he’s just a nice guy. He is very giving, fun and lives life to its fullest. He’s a different guy, but he’s got a great heart.”
Interestingly, the Chicago Bulls’ “Robin” to Michael Jordan’s “Batman” was also formerly quoted as saying ,“I’ve never had a conversation with Dennis in my life,” which Rodman backed up, agreeing “me and Scottie and Michael never had a conversation in my three years in Chicago. Only time we had a conversation was on the court, and that was it.”
Hard to believe Pippen walked away with such a positive attitude when they never actually spoke. Speaking of which…
8 Hate - Michael Jordan
Perhaps hate is too strong a word, but Michael Jordan had little to say about Rodman over their years as teammates (and we know they weren’t talking either - see #9, above.) After the third suspension in less than two years for the “Worm” for kicking cameraman Eugene Amos (see #14, above), Jordan responded to questions about the effect on his relationship with Rodman by saying, simply, “we have no relationship.” Actor Jeremy Piven later recounted on Jimmy Kimmel Live hearing some stories MJ shared that he summarized as having “to just go and clean up the mess a lot of times and grab Dennis and pull his large naked body out of a situation and bring him to practice.”
However, former teammate Steve Kerr, now a NBA coach for the Golden State Warriors, recalled it in a different way. "There was just this respect, this underlying respect that you felt, it was really easy to feel it, 'cause Michael never picked on Dennis,” Kerr remembered. "And Dennis… never did anything for Michael that he didn't do for the rest of us, but he just ... there was just this understanding that Michael is the 'greatest' and I'm below him, and so I'm not going to mess with him and vice versa. It was really interesting."
7 Love - Madonna
Dennis Rodman and Madonna dated in the mid-1990s, at the height of both of their fame. He recalled their relationship began when she said to him flat out “you’re staying with me, in my room.” Her feelings about him at the time? “I love Dennis Rodman. He’s hot. I adore him. He’s the Madonna of the NBA,” she told USA Today. Deep stuff.
In 2015, she looked back at two of her notorious exes from that period of celebrity, and found herself still adoring Rodman. “I’d pick Dennis,” she said in response to a desert island scenario between Rodman and Vanilla Ice. “He has a better sense of humor. Plus, he could always wear my clothes.”
As to his opinion of the pop icon, Rodman told Anderson Cooper in 2011 he was “like, whatever great… hooking up with Madonna, but I thought her music sucked!”
6 Hate - Carmen Electra
Rodman and former Baywatch Babe and Playboy Playmate Carmen Electra eloped to Las Vegas in 1998. "Our relationship was very passionate. When it was good, it was amazing," she said. "And when it was bad, it was the worst."
"People couldn't understand why I loved him," Electra said of her ex-husband, "because he had a reputation for being a bad boy.” Indeed the couple had just met earlier that year, but it was shortly after Electra’s mother had died as a result of a brain tumor. “I just went into self-destruction,” she recalled. Eventually, the bad outweighed the good, and the two split after just one year of marriage. "It happened so fast," she said. "It was so spontaneous, and I remember right after, 'Oh god, what did we do?’”
When Rodman unexpectedly showed up at a house party hosted by Electra late in 2015, to her credit, instead of calling security, she finally buried the hatchet with him. “We talked for five minutes, we caught up a little bit and that was it — and it was nice,” Electra said. “I’ve cared about him throughout all these years and it was great to hear that he sounded like he was in a decent place.”
5 Love - Eddie Vedder
Dennis Rodman’s favorite memory of his relationship with Carmen Electra? Playing Pearl Jam for her when they were having sex. “I put earphones on her while I was making love to her, and she started crying,” he recalled.
The former Bulls star played in Chicago just as local sons’ Pearl Jam had risen into the national spotlight. He even recently made a guest appearance at their 2016 Wrigley Field concert, lifting front-man Eddie Vedder into his arms as they played their 1999 song “Black, Red, Yellow” which they wrote about him (black and red are the team colors, while yellow refers to Rodman’s hair color at the time). “Every time I was at the gym or in the locker room, any time I did anything,” Rodman recalled, “I put on Pearl Jam and listened to Eddie Vedder. It wasn’t so much the band, but Eddie, speaking straight through his heart.”
4 Hate - “Diamond” Dallas and Karl Malone
When Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman bumped chests in Game Six of the 1998 NBA Finals, rumors flew that they had actually done so to promote a different event… that year’s World Championship Wrestling’s “Bash at the Beach” where “Rodzilla” Rodman was paired with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan in a tag-team-match against “The Mailman” Malone and Diamond Dallas Page.
“It’s a wild, crazy scene, bro,” Rodman aptly noted the day of the match. The NBA had just locked out its players, which would cause them to lose 32 games of the ensuing season, and the two stars had both been offered in the neighborhood of $1 million each to participate in the match, nearly 1/10 of the annual salary for “Rodzilla” and 1/5 for "The Mailman.” Amongst other moves, Malone at one point “banged” Hogan and Rodman’s heads together, but Rodman and his teammate eventually won the day when one of Hulk’s disciples of the “New World Order” cold-cocked Dallas and let Hogan pin him.
The 23-minute match, however, was poorly received, the match was labelled as "not very good" while branding Rodman as "sluggish and, at times, barely conscious.” Leave it to the “Worm” to perform enigmatically, even in a staged event.
3 Love - Kim Jong-un
Here’s how it happened. The media company Vice, as part of a documentary series they were creating, gained access to North Korea, a communist country that is typically off-limit to Americans, by appealing to leader Kim Jong-un’s singular obsession with NBA basketball and the Chicago Bulls in particular. As a result, Rodman was invited by Vice to participate in an exhibition basketball game in February of 2013 alongside three members of the Harlem Globetrotters… in North Korea.
Mark Barthelemy was one of the people on the trip and recalls “I was just walking around the sideline of the court shooting pictures and then suddenly I see people just stand up and start screaming. [Kim Jong-un] walked in and sat down, and then Rodman went over to sit next to him, and the atmosphere in the place was electric for a moment and then just very aware … You could feel everyone watching.”
He would visit at least six more times and would come to call the North Korean dictator a “friend for life,” leading to great controversy for his role as unofficial “ambassador” towards a country the US has no diplomatic ties to. As to what Jong-un ACTUALLY thinks of Rodman though? With press access 100% restricted, we may never know.
2 Hate - Barack Obama
“So how does this work? Do you send Ambassador Rodman to North Korea on your behalf?,” President Obama was once asked. “He’s not our ambassador,” he simply replied.
Of course, the interviewer was comedian Zach Galifianakis on his hilarious Funny or Die web-series, “Between Two Ferns,” so Obama was hardly taking the questions seriously. Galifianakis went on to ask “what should we do about North Ikea? Korea.” To which the President just replied, “why don’t we move on?”
Truthfully, we don’t know Obama’s true feelings towards Rodman’s actions in North Korea, but we can guess that he would have preferred to have the choice about whether or not to engage in diplomatic interaction come from the White House instead. Rodman however, for his part, did not mince words as to how he feels. “We got a black president [who] can't even go talk to [Kim Jong-un]. ... Obama can't do s--t; I don't know why he won't go talk to him,” he said.
1 Love - Donald Trump
As seems so often to be the case, the President-Elect seems to swivel back and forth as to his true opinion of Dennis Rodman, but is never shy about saying what is on his mind.
Rodman endorsed his former Celebrity Apprentice “boss” on Twitter in July of 2016, saying “@realDonaldTrump has been a great friend for many years. We don’t need another politician, we need a businessman like Mr. Trump! Trump 2016.” Trump had previously praised Rodman’s efforts in North Korea and even supported his desire to have President Obama reach out to Kim Jong-un, telling Fox News in 2013 “maybe that is not the worst thing, folks, instead of going through this whole charade we do every year. Maybe it’s not the worst thing that somebody actually calls, because you look at this world — this world is just blowing up around us.”
Of course, just one year later, Trump tweeted “Dennis Rodman was either drunk or on drugs (delusional) when he said I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Glad I fired him on Apprentice!”
So what happens next in the real-world reality show of Dennis Rodman? With his complicated history with the new President of the United States, its bound to be something worth sticking around to see.