Skip to main content

Dennis Rodman Didn't Play Organized Basketball Until The Age Of 21

Dennis Rodman Was Very Emotional On His Biggest Regret As NBA Player: "I Wish I Was A Better Father"

Dennis Rodman is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the history of basketball, despite not being the tallest and heaviest player of all. Throughout his career, Rodman showed determination and a passion for the game that a few people can be able to match.

Right now he is a total legend both on and off the court, having played for multiple teams around the NBA. But, it's shocking how different his life and career would have been if it wasn’t for one detail. Something curious about Rodman is that he didn't play organized basketball until he was 21.

At an early age, he felt overwhelmed by his two sisters, Debra and Kim, given that they were more gifted than him when it came to basketball and who could blame him? Their sisters became All-Americans at Louisiana Tech and Stephen F. Austin, respectively. Debra won two national titles with the Lady Techsters.

As for Dennis, he never played high school basketball, was 5'6 as a freshman and was "unable to hit a layup" according to himself. After high school, he went to work as an overnight janitor at an airport. Rodman then grew considerably (5'9 to 6'7) and decided to give a shot to basketball again, despite feeling odd in his own body.

The big man attended Cooke County Junior College in Dallas, which meant the first time he ever played organized basketball, but he was suspended after a single semester due to his bad grades. After being tracked down by Southeastern Oklahoma State University while homeless, the NBA legend decided that was the moment to really start focusing on basketball.

During his time in SOSU, Rodman was a three-time NAIA All-American and led the NAIA in rebounding twice (1985, 1986). In three seasons there (1983–1986), he averaged 25.7 points and 15.7 rebounds, led the NAIA in rebounding twice and registered a .637 field goal percentage. At the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a pre-draft camp for NBA hopefuls, he won Most Valuable Player honors and caught the attention of the Detroit Pistons, who were set to enter the best moment of their history.

He was the 27th pick in the 1986 draft, entering his rookie season at 25. After that, Rodman became a very successful player, sharing touches with some of the greatest players that have ever played the game and making himself one of the best defenders of all time. Among his honors, you can find:

5-time NBA champion (1989–1990, 1996–1998)

2-time NBA All-Star (1990, 1992)

2-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1991)

2-time All-NBA Third Team (1992, 1995)

7-time NBA All-Defensive First Team (1989–1993, 1995, 1996)

You can say he lived a major plot twist in his life. Rodman is now a huge legend after his great performances in the league; pretty good for a guy who just started to play organized basketball when he was 21.