Dennis Rodman Graces Cover of SI’s 14th Annual Where Are They Now? Summer Double IssuePosted: July 2, 2013
“My mission is to break the ice between hostile countries. Why it’s been left to me to smooth things over, I don’t know,” Dennis Rodman tells Franz Lidz in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s 14th annual Where Are They Now? edition, a special summer double issue on newsstands now. Rodman—who appears on his seventh SI cover and his first one since 1999—keeps himself busy these days by appearing nearly everywhere, from the papal conclave to zombie conventions to a “basketball democracy tour” in North Korea. The cover pays homage to Rodman’s May 29, 1995 SI cover.
“I’ll go anywhere that I’m needed,” says the Hall of Fame forward who won seven straight rebounding titles and two defensive player of the year awards and was part of five championship teams during his tumultuous 14 seasons in the NBA. “I’m living famous and living infamous and enjoying the whole crazy carnival to the fullest.” (PAGE 48)
The latest episode in “As the Worm Turns” took him to North Korea, where a stunt based on promoting basketball and democracy dreamed up for the season finale of HBO’s Vice afforded Rodman serious face and partying time with Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s Supreme Leader. Rodman even serenaded the reclusive dictator—whom he calls “really awesome” and a “friend for life”—with Sinatra’s “My Way.”
Rodman on Kim Jong-un: “Fact is, he hasn’t bombed anywhere he’s threatened to yet. Not South Korea, not Hawaii, not . . . whatever. People say he’s the worst guy in the world. All I know is Kim told me he doesn’t want to go to war with America. His whole deal is to talk basketball with Obama. Unfortunately, Obama doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. I ask, Mr. President, what’s the harm in a simple phone call? Come on, Obama, reach out to Kim and be his friend.”
Rodman adds: “If I don’t finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something’s seriously wrong.” (PAGE 51)
Rodman, who is remembered as much for antics (head-butting a referee, kicking a cameraman, frolicking with Madonna and Carmen Electra) and appearance (tattoos, piercings, hair colors) off the court as for his defense and rebounding on it, also says what he thinks of Jason Collins, who recently came out in SI as the first active gay NBA player. “No big deal,” Rodman says. “If I was gay and had come out during my playing days, everyone would have said, ‘Yeah, so what? We already figured that.’ The truth is, in the pros, gays are as common as steroids.” (PAGE 53)
Lidz also found that the public expects Rodman to be on hand for numerous megaspectacles—and he obliges, as long as he is paid his usual appearance fee or if he is allowed to promote his new children’s book, Dennis the Wild Bull. Rodman has attended the Wife-Carrying World Championships in Finland, made hoops stops in Mexico, England and the Philippines, starred in reality TV shows, presided over the Lingerie Bowl and went to the Vatican City in March to help promote a website that allowed people to bet on who the new pope would be.
“If you ranked the 10 most identifiable people on the planet, I’d be Number 5,” Rodman says modestly. “I’d come in right after God, Jesus, Muhammad Ali and Barack Obama.” (PAGE 50)
***SI Video: SI caught up with Rodman at a horror convention where he was signing copies of his children’s book, and posing for pictures with his legion of eccentric and adoring fans. View video here.