“[People] make themselves believe that they believe.”
Michel de Montaigne
I first met this gangly man-child with a semi-Afro as a lukewarm Pistons fan in the late 80s. I started following the team. There was an ensemble cast, each member of which played his role perfectly.
There was Bill Laimbeer, the flopper, jersey-puller and all-around pain in the ass -- to opponents. Vinnie Johnson, nicknamed The Microwave,” because he could come off the bench and heat up really fast. Joe Dumars, who played with a quiet intensity 48 minutes out of 48; he never quit. John Salley, always there with a slick play or remark. James Edwards, the grizzled vet, nicknamed “The Teacher.”
Isiah Thomas, the leader, the team’s mental center. A 12-time all-star. Barely over six feet tall, he ran fearlessly through giants to score a layup.
And another lanky rookie named Dennis Rodman. Came from some no-name school in the South. The Rebounder. Couldn’t shoot worth a damn but had an uncanny ability to see where a missed shot would go. His long arms would snare it, and the team had another chance.
He was chosen Defensive Player of the Year and cried when he accepted the honor. Bit of a showman even then.
Fast forward a couple of years, and Dennis is playing for the Chicago Bulls, whom the Pistons had beaten twice in the playoffs. But the tide turned, and again Dennis found himself a member of an ensemble cast, this one up there with the greatest basketball dynasties:
The steely Jordan, a champion in every way, he of the tireless work ethic and will to win – you’d better not disappoint Michael. He NEVER missed a free throw.
The lithe Scottie Pippen, mentally communicating with Jordan, else how would he know that a no-look pass was coming, how was he able to snare it perfectly and go in for the dunk? He sustained the team for over a year while Michael tried to play baseball.
Luc Longley, the fleshy Aussie. Big, but I’m not sure what else he did. Tony Kukoc, ditto, though he did seem to make some plays from the post. Steve Kerr, short redhead, deadly from 3-point range.
And of course, Dennis, now bulked up, tattoed, hair dyed the Color of the Week, and reincarnated for the Big Show. His clownishness completed the ensemble, but his rebounding skills helped the Bulls too. But Dennis was molting again, evolving. In time, with enough piercings, tats and weird shades and clothes, he became an act unto himself.
Being a celeb is a full time job, and when you have as much money as this ManBoyChild, you really can pursue it full-time. He got married for a day, I think.
Now it’s time to seriously ask: is Dennis the Messiah? Or does he aspire to godly status? His ego is boundless and his latest evolution – to Shaper of World Events – shows us, as if we didn’t know, where His Rodmanness is headed.
For now he is not confined to a basketball court or even the Internet. He speaks directly with heads of state – well, nutty ones, anyway. There’s a cartoon of him with Kim Jong Un. And both are thinking, “If I stand next to him, I’ll look less crazy.”
It is said that the Messiah will rise from commonness, from being one of us to being what he truly is. He will evolve, before our eyes, from one of us to his true status as a god. (I don’t really know if that’s said, but it sounded profound.) This is what Dennis has done, evolving from a scrawny point-guard to an act-in-himself to a dazzling Advisor to Heads of State.
He spent some quality time with the Dear Leader and pronounced him a great guy. His totalitarianism is because…well, he’s only 28. (But see “Kim Jong Un; Worse than father?" Elise Abbott, CNN News Service.) He wants Obama to call him. He wants peace. Maybe, Dennis suggests, they could bond over basketball.
A breakthrough in statecraft! And yet, Dennis leaves and Kim’s bluffs get meaner. What did he say? Is Dennis capable of influencing the next world crisis? His power expands exponentially. What’s next? A seat for him at the UN, as if he were his own country? He’d probably like that – and think he deserves it.
I watch eagerly for the next stage of Rodman-ness. After a period as World Leader, I predict direct Apotheosis. He will eclipse even Oprah. It’s the next logical phase. We’ll have a huge Dennis face, with piercings and shades, filling the skies round the world and speaking to all of us at once, in 5,000 languages, as only our divine leader can.
All questions are answered. Dennis will tell us what to do.