Dennis Rodman… I Salute You

1998 NBA Finals Game 5:  Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls

“You can like me, you can hate me but I know one thing… When I step on this damn floor, all I’m going to do is get solid” – Dennis Rodman

I’d be lying through my teeth if I said that I knew all about Dennis Rodman’s stats throughout his basketball career. Or that it really mattered to me though as we all know he got busy. I’m not an athlete and my ball handling skills are lackluster so getting worked up by sporting events is a great exercise in futility. Who Cares? I don’t. Do I admire Michael Jordan? YES! Lebron James? Absolutely! Allen Iverson is a hero to me as well but its not because of how many points scored, the number of assists and steals, etc., but for their stories. That ambition to be the best with the world watching takes a level of skill and attitude that few have. Not everyone wants to see you succeed; Many naysayers would relish in your failure. Look at the lives of the everyman/everywoman and see how even the smallest of victories tend to draw the ire of those around them. It’s foul but it’s human nature.

So imagine what it’s like for someone to find themselves as in discovering their identity on the main stage or in this case, the basketball court. Dennis “The Worm” Rodman (or “Dennis The Menace”) gained attention during his time with the Detroit Pistons as one of the “Bad Boys”. He along with Isaiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer used to terrorize the NBA with their gritty often dirty style of playing. The Pistons even managed to pull two championships during their time and you can credit them with “educating” the man that would become king, his royal airness, Michael Jordan. Who knew that with a twist of fate years later, Rodman would be more than fitting teammate with the very team that he used to antagonize.

In the 1990s, my NBA knowledge came from my older cousin’s basketball cards and Bulls vs Lakers and Bulls vs Blazers on Sega Genesis. I didn’t care about who was on what team back then. There were more important things to focus on like Ninja Turtles and Super Mario World. By the time that I became aware of Rodman, he had already been traded from the San Antonio Spurs and his transformation had already taken place. I didn’t think too much of his dyed hair, actually I thought it was really cool. I rarely, if ever saw a black man in the mainstream with hair like that besides the fictional Golden Lords in Meteor Man and Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) in Demolition Man. He was different, frightening to most but at 11 years old, it made perfect sense to me.

Dennis had his share of ups and downs after his career in the NBA ended. Nothing but controversy and his story seemed to become more and more bizarre to everyone. Even during his time in the league, he crossed dressed, thrived off the reputation as a party animal and even became involved with Madonna. He was the NBA’s rockstar and we loved it though many of us were ignorant to his struggles off the court. I never viewed Rodman negatively and as human beings we have our flaws and some are more flawed than others. A few weeks ago, I don’t know how it happened but I found myself doing research on Dennis and his story gave me the courage to express myself without a care. I read about his realization after wanting “kill” the person that he had become once he left the Pistons and the man that he became while joining the Spurs. For so long I wanted to be different than what I was; I needed a moment to be me in my purest form. I found myself being too quiet about thoughts and feelings that I had and it always threw me for a loop whenever I felt like I could speak. The day before July 4th weekend, I visited my cousin’s hair salon and dyed my hair and later that day I put on my Chicago Bulls #91 jersey and embraced the person that I wanted to become.

Change happens when it’s supposed to happen and I’ve been evolving for a while. It took giving into my desire to be limitless and a little help from Rodman’s life story to really make sense of it all. Salute to The God D. Rodman…

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