The NBA has been home to plenty of colorful personalities over the decades, but it’s hard to think of many players who managed to stand out from the rest of the pack quite like Dennis Rodman.
Rodman was an integral part of the second threepeat Michael Jordan and the Bulls pulled off during their legendary dynasty in the 1990s, and while the incredibly formidable defender could more than hold his own on the court, he’s arguably defined by his behavior off of it.
There are almost too many crazy Dennis Rodman stories to keep track of, including the time he took a trip to Las Vegas in the middle of the NBA Finals and the playoff game where he went out of his way to get into it with Karl Malone in order to promote the WCW tag team match where they respectively linked up with Hulk Hogan and Diamond Dallas Page.
Rodman took a pretty unconventional path to the NBA (he didn’t play basketball in high school and only started to take the sport seriously after undergoing a growth spurt after graduating), and he also faced a bit of an uphill battle after being scooped up by the Pistons in the second round of the draft in 1986—a struggle that eventually led to him thinking about taking his own life before he got an assist from a legendary broadcaster who helped him get his head straight.
Dennis Rodman reconsidered suicide after chatting with Craig Sager at a strip club
Rodman came into his own as a member of the Pistons, but things took a turn for the worse when head coach Chuck Daly opted to step down after Detroit was eliminated from the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the Knicks in 1992.
Daly had served as a sort of father figure to Rodman, and his departure had a pretty profound effect on a player who soon found himself grappling with the fallout of his split with ex-wife Annie Bakes, who opted to divorce him just 82 days after they’d tied the knot.
Rodman found himself spiraling to the point where he ended up in the parking lot of The Palace one night in 1993 with a rifle by his side, and while he disputes he actually intended to commit suicide, he admits he toyed with the idea before he fell asleep while listening to Pearl Jam only to wake up and discover he was surrounded by police officers who’d been dispatched to check on him.
However, based on what Craig Sager—the legendary sideline reporter best known for the flashy suits he routinely donned while covering NBA games—had to say about an encounter he had with Rodman, that wasn’t the only time he ended up in a dark place.
In 2016, Sager reflected on his career in an interview with Sports Illustrated where he recalled the time he heard Rodman had gone “AWOL” from the Pistons and that people were concerned he’d plan to take his own life.
While Sager didn’t go into a ton of detail, he stated he was able to track Rodman down in a Detroit strip club known as “The Landing Strip” before telling him to reconsider, saying, “He had the gun. He was going to do it. I told him how stupid that would be.”
When Sager passed away following a battle with leukemia in 2016, Rodman essentially confirmed the story in a tweet where he credited the broadcaster for “saving my life when I was in dire need.”
What a world.