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The Best Dennis Rodman Quotes About Pain, Defense, and Competition

Wise words and funny sayings from an unlikely NBA legend.

The best Dennis Rodman quotes from his NBA career
Credit-AP/NBA/Joker Mag

As an undersized high schooler, Dennis Rodman got cut from almost every team he tried out for. He stood only 5’9″ after graduation.

With no college prospects to speak of, he started working as an overnight janitor at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, “mopping, sweeping, [and] cleaning up.”

But then a rapid growth spurt changed his life forever.

Over the next two years, Rodman went from 5’9″ to 6’8″. According to a 1988 Sports Illustrated article, he “refused to leave the house because he felt so odd”.

Later, a family friend tipped off the head basketball coach of a local community college – Cooke County College (now known as North Central Texas College). He played well (17.6 points and 13.3 rebounds per game) but ultimately flunked out after just one semester.

So Rodman transferred to Southeastern Oklahoma State University – an NAIA school at the time. He blossomed there – becoming a three-time NAIA All-American and leading the NAIA in rebounding twice.

Drafted by the Pistons with the 27th overall pick in 1986, Rodman went on to become a 5-time NBA champion and Basketball Hall of Famer.

Never one to shy away from controversy and live by his own rules, Dennis Rodman was one of the most colorful players in the NBA.

Shaquille O’Neal summed it up best:

“He’ll come in with 40 minutes on the clock eating chicken and rice, not paying attention. During the middle of the meeting, take a cold shower, not paying attention. We go out first, then he’ll come out, give you 25 rebounds, stanking like a [expletive], put his clothes on and go to the club and had the baddest women I’ve ever seen in my life, surrounding him, hugging him, kissing him.”

Squeamish as the nickname “The Worm” might be for some, Rodman was one of the most effective defenders ever as a seven-time NBA Defensive First Team All-Star and winner of two Best Defensive Forward awards in the NBA.

Here are the best Dennis Rodman quotes of all time – sourced from his post-game interviews, Hall of Fame speech, and media appearances throughout his career.

The Best Quotes From Dennis Rodman’s Career

Dennis Rodman quote about pain: "I go out there and get my eyes gouged, my nose busted, my body slammed. I love the pain of the game."

1.) “I go out there and get my eyes gouged, my nose busted, my body slammed. I love the pain of the game.” – Dennis Rodman

2.) “I felt shut out not having a father, always having to look out for myself. And my mother just didn’t have enough time to be with me. She was always more interested in my sisters.” – Dennis Rodman

3.) “I couldn’t even make a layup right.” Dennis Rodman on being too small to make the team in high school

4.) “I want to do for rebounds what Michael Jordan did for dunks.” – Dennis Rodman

5.) “Don’t let other people decide who you are.” – Dennis Rodman

6.) “The one thing I do that nobody else does is jump three and four times for one rebound.” – Dennis Rodman

7.) “I’m hungrier than other guys out there. Every rebound is a personal challenge.” – Dennis Rodman

8.) “Everybody’s talking trash these days, so why not keep quiet?” – Dennis Rodman

9.) “This league is so filtered and watered down, we can beat anyone with our eyes closed pretty much.” Dennis Rodman before the Bulls went 72-10 during the 1995-96 season

10.) “I’m starting to see players copy what I do. I’m flattered.” – Dennis Rodman

11.) “This is like a swimming pool. You dive into the water, but you can’t see how deep it is.” – Dennis Rodman

12.) “Create havoc, create destruction.” – Dennis Rodman

13.) “I can score 20 points if I want to, but that’s not my desire.” – Dennis Rodman

14.) “There is one thing everyone should understand: I like my character.” – Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman pictured in his Detroit Pistons uniform next to his quote that reads: "I put pressure on my shoulders. No one else is going to make me achieve what I want to achieve."

15.) “Heart and desire…I put pressure on my shoulders. No one else is going to make me achieve what I want to achieve.” – Dennis Rodman

16.) “I’m nothing more than a sports slave.” Dennis Rodman

17.) “I’m going to live my life the way I want to live it and be happy doing it. At that moment I tamed [sic] my whole life around. I killed the person I didn’t want to be.” – Dennis Rodman

18.) “I’m the guy who’s showing people, hey, it’s all right to be different. And I think they feel, ‘Let’s go and see this guy entertain us.'” Dennis Rodman

19.) “I couldn’t care less if the guy I’m guarding has HIV. I’m going to slam him anyway.” – Dennis Rodman

20.) “I’d see [Larry] Bird on TV and say, ‘I could guard that guy.’ I wasn’t afraid of anybody.” – Dennis Rodman

21.) “I don’t fit into the mold of the NBA, man. And I think I’ve been punished financially for it.” – Dennis Rodman

22.) “The NBA believes if you play for a team and get paid by a team, you’re the property of that team for 24 hours a day.” – Dennis Rodman

23.) “Once I’m on that court, I have the feeling like I’m born to be wild, born to be free. I want to unleash all that fear, all that anxiety – that roar.” – Dennis Rodman

24.) “The NBA’s chosen ones think I’m setting a bad example? I think they need to look around and stop taking themselves so seriously.” – Dennis Rodman

25.) “I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be an NBA player. This is all some fantasy world that I have no right to live in. I was just a kid from the projects who was always too skinny or too funny looking to be taken seriously.” Dennis Rodman

Editor’s Note: Is there a Dennis Rodman quote we missed? Drop a comment below and we’ll get it added.

More quote collections you’d also like:

23 Legendary Michael Jordan Quotes To Help You Unlock The Champion’s Mindset

The Best Allen Iverson Quotes About Overcoming Adversity And Hardship

Written By

Ben Abel has been an avid sports fan since the 1980s. He has contributed to Sports Betting Dime, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America Newsletter, and Joker Mag writing about hockey, baseball, and football as well as other sports. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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