By Kyle Reiner Pineda

Dennis Rodman found peace in basketball like many of us.

Coming from a troubled background, Dennis was a kid from Oklahoma City trying to find his footing as a teenager. In trying to find a sofa to sleep in or a waiting shed to spend the night on, the only son of Debra Rodman would develop his trademark scrappy mentality.

Coming out of college after playing for Southeastern Oklahoma State University, he was already known for his rebounding and defense which he continued to build upon when he was drafted to the Detroit Pistons in the second round in 1986. Dennis Rodman went from hanging by a thread—jumping on every opportunity he could grab, to having stability as an NBA player in Detroit, Michigan.

Dennis Rodman is an interesting person, to say the least. Whether you know him from the Bad Boy Pistons, the Chicago Bulls three-peat, or his friendship with Korea D.P.K. leader Kim Jong Un, you would never think those three guys are just one person. He also set trends with his outlandish playboy personality through his clothes, hair, and even, according to Spida Mitchell, with load management. One could say “The Worm” set the standard for pesky defense and tremendous hustle for future generations to emulate (*ehem* Metta World Peace, Patrick Beverley, Tony Allen). Heck, he was able to get enshrined into the Hall of Fame without being the focal point of the offense which is unheard of today’s generation.

The Dennis Rodman on the court is a different person from the Dennis Rodman off the court. Everyone sees his tenacious defense and incredible hustle, but he is also an intelligent and down to earth person. It’s a weird remark for a person who implements Load Management by going to Las Vegas or kicks cameramen out of nowhere. What many do not see though, are his efforts to become better. Glimpses of that are seen in his Hall of Fame speech or interviews where he constantly lauded the 1990s Chicago Bulls for getting his life back together again.

Isn’t that what life is all about? Taking risks and embracing camaraderie.

Dennis Rodman was not in a good place when the Bulls signed him in 1995. He had just come out from a suicide attempt and being labeled as poison in the locker room in San Antonio. But to put it in the words of Scottie Pippen, “He brought us the toughness we needed to win”. They were right. He was another personality they needed to continue their dynasty run and solidify their legacy years later. When you had the three best defenders of the game in Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman all locked in with championship experience, it was game over for everyone. That was the catch though, “all locked in”. 

That was the risk the then three-time champions took. They bet on a guy they knew was a mess off the court, but was always A+ with his basketball IQ, on defense, and his physique. They bet on a guy they knew could find a way to buy into a system filled with trust, respect, and winning. It was for these reasons Dennis Rodman carved up a spot on the team. Everyone knew they needed to sacrifice something to win a championship. Just like all champions do for a common goal. MJ needed to trust his teammates. Pip needed to step up to the plate. Rodman needed to put his issues off the court aside to win. That was the team dynamic those Bulls teams ran with throughout the course of “The Last Dance”. If the payout for the bet are three NBA titles, then that’s one helluva win.