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Dennis Rodman co-stars in the film "Double Team" with Jean-Claude Van Damme

 

BAD AS I WANNA BE: THE DENNIS RODMAN STORY

James Loving - National Radio Text Service

 

"I've shocked a lot of people in my time, but viewers are going to get a lot more than they expect when they tune in," Rodman said. "Everybody thinks they know who I really am, and for the first time I answer those questions honestly. It's sure to surprise all the people who think they know the real me."

 

Saturday February 17, 2001

Get ready, if you don't really know about former NBA basketball star since turned actor, Dennis Rodman see the televised movie, "Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story." It is about a portion of Rodman's life and is being televised Internationally. The International release of the film gives many of his fans that know of him outside of his NBA basketball career a chance to see the roots from whence he came.

Rodman's popularity with young people around the world who know nothing about basketball resulted from his success as an actor in films such as "Double Team" in which he co-stared with Jean-Clude Van Damme. International youth also relate to him from his cable television series "The Dennis Rodman World Tour" on MTV.

The exposure he gained from his relationship with recording/acting star Madonna helped create his cult celebrity. Many youthful fans that I've met like his outrageous look and persona.

Rodman appears in the television movie by introducing it and making comments throughout. DWAYNE ADWAY ("Gun" "Second Noah") plays Rodman in the film.

"I've shocked a lot of people in my time, but viewers are going to get a lot more than they expect when they tune in," Rodman said. "Everybody thinks they know who I really am, and for the first time I answer those questions honestly. It's sure to surprise all the people who think they know the real me."

Well that brings up a point. I've known Rodman since I started sports reporting in 1989. At the time he was with the Detroit Pistons [then referred to as the "Bad Boys"] and he was pretty much ignored by the media. This was a time when his hair wasn't dyed and he had no body rings or tattoos [that I could see].

After a game Rodman was sitting by himself in the corner of the locker room with his head bowed and his elbows on his knees. When I approached him and made my interview request his response was as if why would anyone want to talk to me?

In my opinion his reluctance was because he was shy. He then agreed to do it.

Throughout the interview no other reporters bothered to come over and talk to him. He was just a role player and not a marquee name. At the time sports scribes found his teammates Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Bill Laimbeer more interesting.

I pointed out that his rebounding prowess stood out in the two NBA championship series of 1989 -1990. His teammates did the scoring but he did the blue-collar grunt work down in the trenches. I wanted to know more about the man in the middle &of his mind and & on the court.

I was impressed with his honesty since I asked some fairly tough questions about his background. We were both born in New Jersey [he Trenton, me Camden] so I felt we had some common ground.

There were some hard questions that he answered without reservation. Rodman moved to Texas at a young age, attended school and later worked as a maintenance man at the Dallas Airport before becoming a basketball star.

In subsequent interviews I felt that I had a special bond with Rodman. Why? I took the time to talk to someone when no other reporter gave a rats @$$. I found worth and value in someone who I felt was insecure, ignored, unappreciated but very talented.

From that point he has never turned me down for an interview. I have seen him turn down reporter's requests after he became a popular athlete and a prominent entertainment personality. They were what I consider front-runners or decapitators. The more they decapitated him the more outrageous he became. He seemed to enjoy the attention.

 


As a member of the Chicago Bulls, Rodman won three consecutive NBA championships.


During his relationship with Madonna Rodman became outrageous.

 

 

Since his two year stint with the Spurs Rodman moved on to the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers [see: Dennis Rodman] and made his last NBA stop playing 12 games with the Dallas Mavericks last season [2000]. Dennis [The Menace - as I call him] will be 40 on May 13, 2001 and is currently out of the NBA.

After that first meeting Rodman went on to be the NBA's top rebounder per game seven consecutive years [1991-92 to 97-98].

A side of Rodman that very few people know is brought to light in the film. When he was in college he befriended a young boy. Though boy was much younger, they were very close and seemed to stabilize each other. Those scenes show a giving Rodman and not the angry person today's media choose to portray.

The film doesn't cover everything in his life since he's done so much before and after what it depicts. Originally produced in 1997 the movie first aired on the ABC television network in America February 8, 1998.

The film reveals Rodman's personal problems with his ex-wife and his close relationship with their daughter. That proved to be an emotional trigger that ripped him apart. I know about this situation and the film doesn't cover the full story of that aspect of his life. That was one of his biggest turning points.

His relationship with Madonna who got his outrageous gears going is depicted in the film. During that relationship he was playing with the San Antonio Spurs. That is when I noticed a dramatic change is Rodman's appearance.

He started to dye his hair blond. I asked why. [I was writing a story about him for my column in the French basketball magazine "Maxi Basket."] His response was he was doing something different. To me it was a sign of someone screaming out for attention. He continued to play his outrageous card well but the attention he received was primarily negative. His conduct on and off the court in many cases was severely criticized and the NBA with heavy fines reprimanded him.

From that time he went on to win three NBA Championships with the Bulls. His negative conduct on and off the court continued to draw negative comments from media and fans and more fines from the NBA.

Basketball is not a major part of the film, but blends in well with his personal life experiences. His career movement in the NBA is depicted from his championship days with the Detroit Pistons, the turbulent years with the San Antonio Spurs and his born again NBA championship experience with the Bulls.

It's difficult to capture someone's life as complex as Rodman's in a two-hour film. If you consider the time that is sandwiched in for commercials for an America television network broadcast it's more like one and a half-hour of real movie time.

The film does get the gist of why Rodman became what is perceived as an outrageous rebellious athlete and personality. It almost justifies, as Rodman says, that he's as "Bad As I Wanna Be."

Rodman may never win an acting award for anything but his spot appearances in the film have merit. As former NBA basketball star Bob Cousy once said to me, "He's one of the greatest promoters since Barnham and Bailey."

The film is worth a look. It's not a good movie or script but it's doable. If you're a film buff just grin and bear it. It appears to be rushed and slapped together. In spite of that it's worth a look to find out some things that you may not know about Rodman. Check your local television listings for date and time of the airing of "Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story."


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