DETROIT — It’s no April Fools joke. Former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman is set to have his Detroit Pistons jersey retired tonight, as the Bulls coincidentally travel to Detroit to battle the Pistons.
Rodman may be best known in popular culture for his off-the-court psychosis that could occasionally be glimpsed on the floor (see Rodman’s unique choices of hair color during his run with the Bulls).
But what is often overshadowed is his Hall of Fame-worthy production.
If you look past the various piercings and tattoos, Rodman has on his resume the fact that he is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, two-time All-Star, five-time champion and seven-time NBA rebounding leader.
Rodman gained his popular status as a punk-rock star during his high-exposure time in Chicago, but by the time he reached the Bulls Rodman was already an established star in Detroit.
Rodman was best known as a member of the Chuck Daly-led “Bad Boys” in Detroit who constantly butted heads with Chicago. Daly and his Bad Boys were the first team to successfully find a formula to stop Michael Jordan and the Bulls.
But when Rodman joined the Bulls before the 1995-96 season, he began to descend from basketball as his popularity hit its massive peak. Rodman did everything from cross-dress at his wedding with Carmen Electra to box office-flopping movies and pro wrestling.
He even occasionally let his off-the-court problems bubble over into the game. Rodman infamously head-butted referee Ted Bernhardt during a March 16th game; he received a six-game suspension and was fined $20,000.
But despite his antics, Rodman still managed to remain one of the league’s best rebounders, and despite heavy criticism from fans and players alike, he did do his part in helping to win titles during his stay in Chicago.
Rodman contributed an average of 14.3 rebounds per game during the Bulls’ legendary 72-win season.
The bottom line on Rodman is that you get NBA recognition based on what you do on the court. If you were judged by how you acted off the playing field, Ty Cobb wouldn’t be in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Regardless of Rodman’s issues, his on-court production speaks for itself. He has five NBA championship rings, and he led the league in rebounding seven consecutive years from 1991-1998. He was an All-Star and First-Team All-Defensive player, and everybody knows his name, even if you don’t follow basketball.
Rodman’s jersey retirement is well deserved.
The Bulls battle the Pistons tonight in Detroit, with the ceremony taking place at halftime.