When HOF'er Dennis Rodman Was Normal

Watching Dennis Rodman being inducted into the Hall of Fame brought back memories of the 'Worm' I knew 25 years ago. Seems like yesterday we were playing 'night ball' on the outside courts across the streets of the SOSU dorms in Durant, OK. Rodman was the Savages star, but he was also ... normal. (Not counting the diving board and the milk-crate bed.)

My freshman year at SOSU was Rodman's senior year, but I actually met him two years prior. As a part of an Upward Bound program, I was able to attend Southeastern during the summers of high school, living in the dorms and taking college classes for credit. Interestingly enough for me, my three years living in Durant coincide with the same three years Rodman played for the Savages, leading our tiny school to two appearances in the NAIA National Tournament.

During the school year, I preferred hanging around the campus to hanging out at high school, and ran into Rodman on a regular basis. He couldn't easily forget me, the 6-7 skinny white kid who he often found working on half-court hook shots in the rec center (an unstoppable shot except that it rarely went in from half court). And I would never be able to forget those personal flashbacks that would keep Dennis Rodman cemented in my mind and in a small part of my growing-pains history.


Flashback 1 – The Corridor: Years after Durant was in our rear-views, I hurried through the Utah Jazz arena towards the tunnel as the Pistons headed to their locker rooms at half time.

"Worm! – Hey Worm!" I screamed towards the tunnel.

Rodman looked up at me, a bit puzzled.

"What are you doing here?" he replied. "I'm going to school here!" I yelled back, referencing my transfer from SOSU to BYU.

"Well, come see me after the game," and Dennis motioned with his arm as he darted into the tunnel.

I don't even remember how I arrived at the Pistons locker room after the game. Maybe my Southeastern Oklahoma State University NAIA Championship T-shirt was my ticket past all the security (as if they even knew who the SOSU Savages were).

I'm pretty sure I told guards, "I'm friends with Dennis Rodman" and they let me walk all the way to the locker room door, which was heavily guarded by two Pistons players in folding chairs. I wasn't one to collect autographs, or I would have started with Joe Dumars and Vinnie Johnson. Of course, Joe had only started playing a year before Rodman – thus why I had no clue who these two guardians of the locker room were.


Joe pointed to my shirt and explained he had seen that shirt before. Yep – I was legit.

Rodman and John Salley came out of the locker room and joined me and a college roommate. My roommate was 6-3 and found it odd that he had to look up at me, Rodman and Salley while walking down the hallway.

"I use to go to school with this guy," proclaimed Rodman to John Salley, nodding toward me.

"You might have played ball with him,'' shot back Salley, slyly ripping on Rodman's small-school education and our differing racial backgrounds, "but you definitely didn't go to school with him."

Shortly after, Isiah Thomas joined us down the longest corridor I have ever walked. ... A flashback with some basketball greats enjoying a laugh, and remembering Rodman with normal hair and minus all the tats. ... not yet the "salesman of himself'' that would make him worthy of the SMC review.

Flashback 2 – The High Dive: SOSU had a great indoor swimming pool we took advantage of every summer. Scary part of the swimming pool was the high dive, and scarier yet was a 6-8 Worm practicing his rebounding skills while jumping off the high dive.

He would bounce off the board as high as he could ... maybe in an attempt to touch the indoor facility's ceiling ... maybe in attempt to impress the numerous girls in the pool .. maybe to get that rush everyone seeks when jumping off a protruding ledge over a giant swimming pool.

It definitely didn't look pretty, and he wasn't going for style points. (Really, it seemed like more of a raw MMA training program than anything he'd ever use in basketball). In the end, these were simple stunts that didn't involve him wearing a wedding dress or dating Madonna.


Flashback 3 – The Milk Crates: I spent three summers in the towers (dorms) at SOSU and my entire freshman year. Rodman was in the same dorms, so we crossed paths on numerous occasions. He often sat outside the dorm towers on the steps or on one of the ledges, always laughing, always enjoying life on campus. I didn't know much of his past history or family problems, only that he was from Dallas and he had tall sisters. One day he invited me into his dorm room to show me his prize possession: his majestic milk crate bed.

He had stacked milk crates at the corners of his bed, with his mattress some six feet off the ground. It was genius! Funny now how something so simple seemed so incredible to an impressionable freshman.

Of course, I wasn't brave enough to go out on one of those milk crate night raids behind the local grocery store, but I was thankful the future NBA rebounding king invited me in and shared a personal moment with me. I one-upped him the next semester, landing a roommate with a real bunk bed, a TV, a refrigerator and a Mac computer. I added a giant bean-bag for two and -- in a hint as to my career future -- the audio-video department's loaner projector. I showed movies like "Desperately Seeking Susan'' and "Uncommon Valor'' on the wall.


In the end, I had the better crib. But I never landed Madonna or Carmen Electra.

David Teel is the co-founder of Game Havens designing game rooms, media rooms, and smart homes throughout DFW, the Southwest and even Bermuda. David's company takes care of Dirk Nowitzki, Mike Fisher and a ton of other Dallas Maverick fanatics. David has tried to hide the fact that his company has also supported smart home systems for Manu Ginobili and the owner of the Spurs, Peter Holt.

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