The Worm And I

Worms

Photo by digipam from Flikr

What makes this speech shocking is a man willing to stand in front of peers and press and say things like: “I wish I had been a better father” or looking down at his mother and saying things like “Me and my mother have never gotten along” and “She kicked me out” and “I resented her” and “my mother rarely ever hugged me or my siblings….she didn’t know how” and yet still make everything he’s saying sound like a remorseful, respectful tribute to her.

Via “D-Rod can still shock us” by Evil Ted

Dennis Rodman’s induction speech was about as emotionally raw as you can get. No need for me to rehash the speech any further since Basketbawful did that splendidly. What I can do is reminisce about one of the NBA’s greatest players. Pull up a chair, it’s story time. To the 90s we sojourn…

As someone who had absolutely no jump shot and routinely played with older kids, it was always a cold day in basketball hell when I saw the ball on offense. So to make up for my freeze out on that end, I busted my butt on defense and the boards seeking to prove my worth. Eventually the older guys started comparing me to the Worm. Sure, I still didn’t get the ball on offense, but a measure of respect had been gained.

So whenever I would see the illustrious Rodman on TV, I sympathized with and cheered him while jeering the snooty media not so much for his own sake, but for the enhancement of my own basketball reputation on the courts. When Good Morning America was buzzing with coverage of Rodman wearing a wedding dress, I merely shrugged. Sure it was different, but I didn’t find it necessarily strange. The incessant fixation people had on his dyed hair fascinated me more than the dyed hair. The cover of his book caused a ruckus. Faithfully, I ventured to the cinema to see his Van Damme collaboration Double Team. Hell, I even witnessed his WCW match with Karl Malone live on Pay-Per-View.

The only time I got upset with Rodman was when he delivered a crushing blow to a cameraman’s crotch in Minnesota, but even then I thought the victim was playing up his injury for the potential lawsuit money. But like any childhood fixation, Rodman fever had cooled and in 1999 I wisely avoided Simon Sez and watched in horror as Rodman turned into a vagabond for Los Angeles and Dallas. He finally seemed a caricature of himself.

However, the preceding was all tabloid Rodman. What I truly marveled at was basketball Rodman. The one I was unbelievably compared to on the courts. The man would gyrate, slither, leap and bound his way to any and all rebounds. He’d frustrate opponents with a series of tricks that even annoyed me, an ardent Rodman supporter. But the results couldn’t be denied. Rodman would get his technical and go about his business while the opponent would be mentally unstable for the rest of the game. Most importantly, watching Rodman recklessly dive into the crowd for a loose ball and save it taught me a play was never dead.

Thankfully, the memory of the Worm will not die either so long as the Hall is around. To my surprise, Rodman didn’t have a terribly long wait to get into the Hall of Fame. It was overdue but he had to pay some price for the horrible biopic of Bad As I Wanna Be.

Congrats, Dennis.

 

Post-Script: A fun video I made of Dennis’s highlights. Can’t believe I forgot about this earlier.

Seth Carstens