Rodman's the coolest guy I ever met.
We had a huge store in Vegas, right in the middle of Caesar's Palace mall (The Forum Shops), and Rodman was scheduled to make an appearance. The crowd was unbelievable, in the thousands. Some had camped overnight. One guy in a wheelchair had a giant Bulls mascot head with him. He had been there since the night before, I think he was the first guy to arrive.
Rodman was late, almost an hour. We finally found him and had to pull him and his little hot blonde off the tables at the Mirage. He comes in the back entrance, all attitude, doing his strut, telling us, "Man, I don't have time for this." He was supposed to sign a basketball for a costume contest winner (this was on Halloween, fans dressed as their favorite Rodman character)
One of our staff opened the blinds in the mezzanine office so he could look down at the floor, literally filled with fans, shoulder-to-shoulder, standing room only. The conversation went something like this:
"What are they doing here?"
"Dennis, they're here for you. These are your fans, come to see you."
"Really? They're all here for me?"
"Well, yeah, you're a star athlete, we've been advertising this for a week."
"Naw. No shit? All these people for me?"
(At this point, I found it really odd that he didn't think he could draw a crowd of thousands).
"Damn." That was all he could say.
Then, he got this big smile, and turned into the nicest basketball player I've ever met. Not only did he sign the ball for the costume contest, he personally judged it, then signed balls for all the entrants, saying that anybody crazy enough to dress like him deserved to be a winner.
Leaving the contest, he saw the dude in the wheelchair. As Dennis kneeled next to him, the crowd formed a circle around them. Dennis talked to the guy for about five minutes, signed his Bulls mascot, and even gave him the ugly green knit cap off his head.
When all was done, we went to lunch at a deli nearby. Dennis kept thanking us for the event, saying he never realized how much he meant to his fans.
When the Bulls signed Rodman, I was severely skeptical. Former Piston, crazy hair, a major wildcard personality-wise. I grew to love that guy so much. He is crazy, for sure, but not in the way I thought. He's just the type of person that needs to be reminded that he matters, that he's making a difference in the world. That's why he does the admittedly insane jaunts to North Korea, and that's probably why he is allegedly using recreational drugs. I think he needs to join a cause with really good people with which to surround himself to keep him in check a bit. He is definitely one of the sports world's most interesting characters.