There has always been so much bluster and craziness surrounding Dennis Rodman, so it's easy to forget that long before he was palling around with North Korean dictators, before he was romantically attached to pop icons like Madonna and Carmen Electra, even before he was the rainbow haired icon who helped Michael Jordan and the Bulls to their second threepeat, Rodman was an elite basketball player unlike any other in his era. The Worm was a fearsome defender who turned the act of rebounding into both an art and a science. Simply put, there had never been a player like Rodman before Rodman, and there hasn't been one like him since. That's not likely to change any time soon.
Rodman is celebrating his 60th birthday today and we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the enigmatic man. Now, we could write about the profound effect he had on the history of the NBA or his five NBA titles, but that's not why you read Inked. You want to read about the tattoos, and an argument can be made that Rodman (along with Allen Iverson) is responsible for making the Association the tattooed paradise it is today.
During the '80s, it was rare to see professional athletes, in any sport, with visible tattoos. Sure, you'd see one or two assorted pieces on occasion, but it was nothing like what you see now. When Rodman was drafted by the Pistons in 1986, he didn't have any tattoos (that we know of). He quickly became an integral part of the Bad Boys, winning back-to-back titles in Detroit. As his reputation grew, so did his tattoo collection.
By the time he arrived in Chicago in 1995, Rodman was covered in tattoos. When you look at his collection it truly is a snapshot of the era. This is a roundabout way to say that he had a lot of tribal. A hell of a lot. And it looked fucking awesome. It's not an exaggeration to say that the tribal sunburst on his arm launched 10,000 imitations, a boon for tattooers of the time and laser removal specialists today. Jokes aside, Rodman amassed a collection that fit him perfectly.
I grew up in Chicago, and as such I grew up hating Rodman while he was with the Pistons, only to love him as a Bull. I owned a 91 Rodman jersey (the black alternate, of course) and I'd be lying if I were to say that he wasn't part of the reason I dyed my hair fire engine red. And he was definitely part of the reason I got interested in tattoos in the first place.
Thus, if Dennis Rodman didn't look like a complete badass and win a bunch of titles with the Bulls I'd likely be an unemployed vagabond. And you wouldn't be reading this article or having the chance to appreciate these amazing tattoo tributes to Rodman. What a sad world that would be. This reality is way better, and it's all thanks to one of the most underappreciated basketball players of the '80s and '90s.
Happy birthday, Dennis Rodman!