Now about Dennis Rodman, Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump, crying on live television, Lex Luger and The Giant, wedding dresses, etc.
I’ll tell you what I know.
Let’s return to the late 1990s, when Rodman was a splendid defender and rebounder for the Chicago Bulls. He helped Michael Jordan and others continue that dynasty, but whether we’re talking about Rodman on or off the court, he still had that kookiness from his previous stint on the Bad Boys Pistons.
Every Rodman interview back then resembled an episode from his MTV reality show. And so it was on this day, when he held court around his locker for a slew of reporters. The pierced ears, the tattoos everywhere, the rainbow-colored hair. They were all there, along with the star of the moment, barely making sense when it came to what just happened during a Bulls playoff game.
A reporter friend of mine who covered Rodman in Detroit tapped me on the shoulder. He told me to join him in moving away from those scribbling down every one of Rodman’s nonsensical words, with cameras flashing and rolling nearby.
“Just wait,” my reporter friend said.
I waited, then after the pack of journalists left, it was just my reporter friend and me standing before Rodman, moving deep into his cubicle and motioning for us to get closer. After my reporter friend whispered something into his ear such as, “You also can cut the act with this guy,” I saw The Real Dennis Rodman.
Well, he wasn’t that OTHER Dennis Rodman.
The voice of this one went from loud to soft, and he answered every question with the depth of a basketball statesman. He wasn’t quite LeBron James in his ability to recall every millisecond of a game, but he was close. He even looked different. He still had the earrings, the tattoos and the hair, but I kept thinking to myself, “Who is this person?” He was making sense, and he was captivating without all of that extra stuff.
According to my reporter friend, that “extra stuff” was just a performance by Rodman — you know, along the lines of Deion Sanders turning into Prime Time for commercial reasons.
I’ve never forgotten that Rodman moment, which is why every time I see him dressing in drag or battling big-time wrestlers or befriending notorious dictators, I wonder if he has something else in mind. That’s why I wonder if there was a method to what seemed like madness five years ago when he flew to North Korea and returned to the United States to say Kim really is fabulous and that détente should happen between both countries.
You know the rest. Trump went to Singapore this week to become the first U.S. President to meet with a North Korean head of state since the start of the Korean War in the early 1950s.
Rodman is taking credit for getting Trump and Kim together, and he said as much on CNN. While wearing one of Trump’s “Make America great again” caps, he talked during the live interview about how Barack Obama ignored his pleas for a North Korea-U.S. summit in the previous administration. He talked about death threats and how he had to hide for 30 days after his first visit with Kim. He often sobbed, but I yawned during those parts, because he was channeling the OTHER Dennis Rodman.
I cared more about The Real Dennis Rodman telling CNN that he received a phone call from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and he said, “She sent her best wishes and said that Donald Trump is really proud of you. He’s happy you’re having some type of part of this whole situation. He’s very happy to carry out these things I’ve been saying.”
Remember, too, that even though Trump called Rodman “a nice guy” and “a great rebounder” last week, the President and his lieutenants claimed the Basketball Hall of Famer wouldn’t participate in any peace negotiations with Kim. In fact, in 2014, Trump tweeted the following when Rodman said he wanted to join the then-private businessman on a trip to North Korea: “Dennis Rodman was either drunk or on drugs (delusional) when he said I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Glad I fired him on Apprentice!”
Sounds like Trump is playing games here.
Then again, Rodman can relate.