One thing that I find most interesting in documentaries is the complexity of the subject. I consider whether or not I’m going to be left knowing more about the person, place, or thing, or if at least, my opinion is going to be changed. Never have I seen a documentary do this like “Rodman: For Better or Worse” has.
When anyone hears the name “Dennis Rodman,” they may think of a few things from his antics throughout the ‘90s: piercings, parties, Carmen Electra, or even when he married himself. Nowadays people seem to think of North Korea and his relationship with the country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un.
What people may not know is the full story of Rodman and how he was raised and the struggles that he endured.
The documentary, narrated by Jamie Foxx, opens with scenes of Rodman’s childhood when he was a toddler
With a father who left when he was 3, Rodman was raised with his two sisters by a single mother. While Rodman is known for how outspoken and wild he was and is today, Rodman was actually very quiet and reserved until his late 20s.
One of the most interesting scenes, portrayed by actors, is when Rodman’s two sisters dress him up in a dress and wig to play with him. Rodman commented on it saying that he just went along with everything they wanted him to do because he did not stand up for himself.
The documentary then goes into discussing Rodman’s life after high school. While the five-time NBA champion today stands at a towering 6-foot-7, he graduated high school at only 5-foot-8. Within the year and a half after graduating, his mother kicked him out, and he then grew 11 inches. Some took notice as he began playing basketball seriously for the first time in his life at South Eastern Oklahoma University.
After being drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the 1986 NBA Draft, Rodman found a father in his first coach, Chuck Daly. With Daly, Rodman for the first time would have a true father figure in his life. After the Pistons won a pair of championships together the team began to fall apart and split. This tore at Rodman, because he did not think they would ever break up. And when Daly left the team, Rodman began to split at the seams.
The first true sign of this was when he was found in his car outside of the Pistons arena with a rifle in his lap and his shoe and sock off, ready to end his life.
Throughout the documentary there are interviews with teammates who explain that the crazy Rodman who parties was not the same Rodman who first entered the NBA. Teammates attest to him ordering milk when they would go out celebrating after a win. Rodman was a 26-year-old who was living out his childhood late in life, and that’s what I find so interesting about this documentary.
What the viewer gets is a look into who Rodman actually is as a person. What the public has seen in the last two decades is a party-crazed ex-NBA player who only cares about himself. What they don’t see is how he never had a father, and when he finally found a surrogate father, he was crushed when he left.
While Rodman has done a lot of questionable things throughout his life, he has suffered a lot of heartbreak. The documentary shows you just how heartbroken he was before he turned into the person the world knew him as.
You can stream “Rodman: For Better or Worse” through ESPN Plus and get the full story on the man they call “Worm.”