AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Dennis Rodman insisted it was easier to guard Michael Jordan than it was to talk about what it meant to have the Detroit Pistons retire his jersey.
“I’m relieved that’s over,” Rodman said Friday, after getting emotional during a halftime ceremony that ended with a “Dennis Rodman 10” banner going to the rafters.
The honors, though, are still coming his way.
He’s headed for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Rodman said he was informed Thursday to be in Houston for Sunday’s announcement and to “wave to the crowd” during the NCAA final on Monday night.
He broke down – 1 1/2 times, by his count – while addressing the adoring fans, several former teammates and the wife of late owner Bill Davidson at The Palace.
“These guys were like my big brothers,” Rodman said.
During a pregame press conference, tears streamed down both his cheeks.
“It’s a surprise to me that my number is being retired,” Rodman said.
It didn’t amaze any of his teammates that he was honored, just as former Bad Boys teammates Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie Johnson were previously. The Pistons have also retired Dave Bing and Bob Lanier’s jerseys, and honored Davidson, Chuck Daly and Jack McCloskey with banners for their contributions to the franchise.
“It’s a well-deserved honor for Dennis,” said Dumars, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations. “He was one of the great Bad Boys.”
Detroit selected Rodman in the second round of the 1986 draft out of Southeastern Oklahoma.
The native of Trenton, N.J., helped the Pistons win NBA titles in 1989 and 1990 – when he was known as “The Worm” – was a part of three of Chicago’s championship teams, and also played for San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas.
Despite averaging just 7.3 points a game, he is regarded as an all-time great because of his ability to guard point guards or centers and grab rebounds at both ends of the court. The two-time defensive player of the year and two-time All-Star set an NBA record by leading the league in rebounds over seven straight seasons.
Rodman grabbed attention on the court – sporting numerous tattoos before they became a common sight – and away from the game, having a relationship with Madonna, run-ins with the law and appearances on the “Celebrity Rehab” TV show.
“In about four weeks, I’ll be 50 years old,” he said. “I don’t believe I made it to that.”
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