Stop it. “Celebrity Apprentice”? Come on, dude.
Yes, your legacy is your legacy, and no one else’s to determine. But you seem hell-bent on ensuring that the enduring image of you is not as a physiological marvel, but rather as equal parts carnival barker and grotesque caged attraction. (One might counter-argue that in his late pro career, Rodman was actually more like the geek who immediately walks up to you when he hears you speak and says, “How does it feel to be such a freak?” I would counter-counter-argue: Man, funk dat.)
Personally, I want to remember you like this:
Frenetic, amazing and confounding, a surprising and an unreasonably dominant force that made his bones by showing men of will what true will really was. No play was ever over. No ball couldn’t be possessed. No opposing attacker couldn’t be defended, dispirited and dispatched. Rage + strength + athleticism + smarts, like those fleeting periods where the savage Hulk managed to retain puny Banner’s beautiful mind.
I’m a Knicks fan who grew up watching you fly around the court in Detroit blue and Chicago red — man, did I hate you. Had I come of age in an era of liberated fandom, I may have grown to love you. Alas.
Instead, sadly, it seems more and more likely that I’m going to remember you as the punchline to an easy late-night joke:
“Joan and Melissa Rivers! Dennis Rodman! Andrew Dice Clay!” cackled David Letterman of CBS’ “Late Show,” outing four of the contestants in his monologue before he mused, “And the celebrities are …?”
They’re long gone, Dave, just like the glory days, and soon, just like the memory of one of the most unique athletic talents ever to stalk a gym. And I don’t think they’re ever coming back.