Dennis Rodman is not somebody whom you can dictate lifestyle terms or tell him what to do, as David Stern found out in the 90s.
Rodman was a larger-than-life figure in the public consciousness in the 90s. One could argue that he was a top 3 NBA player in terms of visibility and being a celebrity.
The 6’7″ forward was one of the most dashing people on and off the court, and he wasn’t about to apologize for it. ‘The Worm’ didn’t get where he was by allowing others to police or rein him in.
Rodman was allowed to get away with quite a few things that normally wouldn’t be labeled as ‘professional’. America liked that he was such a cool dude being himself, and mostly didn’t get anyone into trouble.
Dennis Rodman says he got a tattoo in retaliation to a warning from David Stern
One could argue that no American Big 4 league commissioner has had a commercial impact like Stern. Stern was the commissioner to draft Michael Jordan and raise the profile of the NBA by taking it global.
But one part of Stern was always torn between putting his players’ individuality on display versus reining it in. Many have criticized Stern for his regressive dressing policy introduced in the aftermath of the Malice.
Dennis Rodman was also apparently told off by Stern to be image-conscious, and not get so many tattoos. Rodman told as much to Kevin Hart in 2019. Hart featured the GOAT rebounder on one of his episodes of ‘Cold as Balls’.
“When I was doing tattoos before anybody thought about doing tattoos, I was going to David Stern’s office in New York, and he said if you do any more tattoos, I’m gonna kick you out.”
“I was like, what? So basically, that just fueled the fire right there. I said OK, great, I went and got a tattoo that night, and then I just kept getting tattoos and piercings, kept doing my thing.”