Dennis Rodman’s impact on the NBA has gone beyond his Hall of Fame career.
Though few players in NBA history can match Rodman’s defensive tenacity, energy on the glass, and all-around hustle, his outsized personality helped usher in a new era in the NBA. Rodman’s colorful hair, tattoos, piercings, and off-the-court, larger-than-life brand, in some ways, paved the way for today’s players, many of whom show their personalities and build an off-court brand for themselves.
Before the debut of ESPN’s new “30-for-30” documentary, “Rodman: For Better or Worse,” Rodman spoke to Business Insider about his career, the modern NBA, his advice for today’s stars, Michael Jordan and more.
Note: The below conversation is an excerpt from a longer interview and has been edited for length and clarity.
Scott Davis: Does anybody in the NBA today remind you of yourself?
Dennis Rodman: I think the only one that reminds me of myself, that I study, that really wants to win and win and win, I say Draymond Green. Even though I talk s— about him a lot, I think he’s probably the only one. He’s more like me. He can shoot a little bit, but he can’t shoot, but he does everything else good.
But I just think that the passion of the game of basketball is not what it used to be. I think the driving force for basketball today, I think kids go to the NBA, get a s— load of money and then all of a sudden that’s it. And they look at it as the money’s guaranteed no matter what I do. If I play halfway decent, then I get all this money.
And so I understood that the game was more than just the money. It’s about, you know, your goal is to win a championship. Your goal is to make people happy. That’s the key. That’s the key. A lot of players, I think a lot of players don’t have that ambition to do that.
Davis: Going back a moment — why do you talk s— about Draymond Green?
Rodman: That’s just busting his balls. That’s just to see what he says about that, you know. I commend him for staying with Golden State for $25 million a year. I said I wish I was like you, Draymond, getting $25 million just to do what you do. I probably got like a quarter of what you’ve got, what I was doing.
Davis: What do you think of the player empowerment era in the NBA, where players are increasingly taking control of their careers?
Rodman: Well, that’s the day and age now. Everyone wants to be their own corporation. Everybody wants to sit there and control it themselves. A lot of people can’t do that. I mean, even billionaires can’t control themselves. They need people to help them along the way and stuff like that.
I think if players can understand that, I have all these opportunities now. Okay, great. You need someone to delegate those things for you, and then if you got people that’s going to go out there for you, that you trust, then great. Your main job is why you got there: play basketball, play the hardest you can play, and go out there and win for the people and make sure that you are satisfied, too. Go show the people that you can go out there and give 110% every night.
And don’t say that you are hurt and then next thing you know, you come back two weeks later. I mean that just don’t sit well with me at all. You get a rest; you get rest now. We never took a break when we played. We played every game, pretty much most of the game, and we won, and we loved the game, we loved the passion of the game. I just wish players could just focus on playing the game when the season is going on, instead of worried about how they could make money off the side during the season and just concentrate on the season.
Davis: I’m curious about your response to that because you were a player who really showed your off-court personality and y