Picks and Pans Review: Bad as I Wanna Be
Dennis Rodman is among the most dynamic, entertaining athletes of his time. Or he's the embodiment of everything crass and unruly about modern sports. Or he's a hotheaded nonconformist prone to piercing his body and stripping in public. Or he's all of these things and a savvy self-promoter to boot.
Whatever your take on the Rodman experience, there's no denying that the Chicago Bulls' hard-driving, hair-dying power forward is one colorful character. His latest act of exhibitionism assaults the senses with a brazen book jacket that features three shots of a butt-naked Rodman (will this guy ever come out of his shell?). What's inside is even more revealing, as the NBA's perennial leader in rebounds, tattoos (he's got 11) and childish outbursts (he was recently suspended for head-butting a referee) writes with profane candor about playing basketball ("We're professional prostitutes"), race ("A black player knows he can go out on the court and kick a white player's ass"), his own sexuality ("I fantasize about being with another man") and, of course, Madonna ("...it was clear the opportunity was there for marriage if I had been thinking that way"). Rodman explains that he turned down the Maternal Girl's proposal that he father her child because "being Mr. Madonna would have been a tough thing to overcome."
Overcoming, it turns out, is Rodman's central theme. He is rightly boastful about having survived a broken home, poverty and fascination with death to become a champion, though his harsh criticism of teammates, coaches and NBA brass reveals a residue of bitterness and a persecution complex. And while much of Rodman's rebelliousness seems like an act, he also comes across here as a fiercely proud misfit who simultaneously wants to shock the world and be embraced by it. (Delacorte, $22.95)