Dennis Rodman once claimed that Isiah Thomas saved his career by taking a majority of the blame from his own comments on Larry Bird.
Dennis Rodman came into the NBA as the 27th overall pick for the Detroit Pistons and immediately clicked. While he was used to being a primary weapon on offense on SouthEastern Oklahoma State, Rodman was incredibly enthusiastic to take on more of a defensive role with the Pistons along with his patented rebounding.
With the kind of team Chuck Daly was building, ‘The Worm’ fit perfectly into their system of physicality and hustle. So much so that he was Bill Laimbeer’s running mate in the frontcourt and helped guide them to two back-to-back championships; one over the Lakers and the other over the Blazers.
Rodman would even make an All-NBA team in 1992 but this would be well past Isiah Thomas and company’s primes. While he wouldn’t stay in Detroit for the rest of his career, his play there gave him enough cache to be labelled a star in the league.
Of course, someone who made Dennis’s life quite easy on the Pistons was one of the greatest point guards of all time, Isiah Thomas.
Dennis Rodman on Isiah Thomas.
In an interview with HoopsHype, Dennis Rodman opened up about his relationship with Isiah Thomas and how he eventually saved his career after he made certain comments against Larry Bird in his rookie year.
“Well, Isiah was more of a big brother, was more of a mentor to me, than anybody. He would leave his house, his family, in the middle of the night to come take care of me. He knew that I wasn’t too bright, as far as living a life of NBA player. He took the time out, like Chuck Daly did.”
“They took their time out to just embrace me and said, ‘Well, he’s not smart enough to understand what he’s into, what he’s going to get into.’ He’s been on my side from day 1. The things I said about Larry Bird in the ’87 playoff series, he took all the heat for me, which I didn’t know then, and he pretty much saved my career at that time.”
“I think that he feels a love for me that he knows the ups and downs I’ve been through. He just feels that I’m part of his family; his kids and his wife, they just believe in me, and he’s just been that same emotional person to me, and I respect that from him.”
The comments he’s referring to are the ones he made about how if Bird were black, he would be considered an average player. IT would end up taking the brunt end of the criticism for this comment despite the rookie Rodman conceptualizing it.