Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman: Mark Cuban 'had faith in me'

Former NBA great Dennis Rodman on March 10, 2019 in Century City, California.
Michael Tullberg | Getty Images

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman's tumultuous career and personal life have been marked by both impressive athletic success and numerous controversies.

But one highlight has been Rodman's friendship with billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, according to "Dennis Rodman: For Better or Worse," which premiered Tuesday as part of ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary series.

"He was a cool guy to me," Rodman, who briefly played power forward on Cuban's Mavericks in 2000, making $441,176 in salary, says in the documentary. Cuban even let Rodman live in his guest house when he first arrived in Dallas (where Rodman admits to throwing a few parties).

"He had faith in me," Rodman tells ESPN. Prior to signing mid-season with the Mavericks, Rodman had been released by two different NBA teams (the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers) over the previous two years, but Cuban signed Rodman to a contract despite his controversial reputation and public antics, citing his rebounding and defense skills on the court.

Cuban "liked the way I played ball, how I marketed myself," says Rodman.

"He felt bad it didn't work out there," Rodman adds, referring to the fact that he was released by the Mavericks in 2000 after 29 days and just 12 games played.

"I told him, 'I had a blast, thanks very much,'" Rodman says.

Rodman attributes his release to the Mavericks being "in the middle of a youth movement," he tells ESPN. At the time of his release he was 38. Cuban at the time attributed the future Hall-of-Famer's release to the fact that the team had fallen out of playoff contention.

But being released by the team (and the fact that Rodman occasionally lobbed criticisms at Cuban during the player's tenure in Dallas), did not prevent Rodman and Cuban from developing a friendship.

"We've been friends ever since," Rodman tells ESPN. "I talked to him a couple of weeks ago. It was never about the money. It was about the friendship. That's refreshing."

As for Cuban, "I like Dennis," he tells CNBC Make It.

"I learned a lot about dealing with the media and PR from him. Everywhere he went there was media and he was always positive and connected with them. [It was] a trait that served me well."

Mark Cuban: "One of the great lies of life is follow your passions"
Mark Cuban: "One of the great lies of life is follow your passions"

Indeed, when Rodman played for teams like the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls in a 14-year career that began in 1986, he developed a reputation for his eccentric style and oddball brand that regularly attracted media attention.

"I was becoming so bored about life and about playing the game of basketball, I had to do something to spark my life," Rodman told The New York Times Tuesday. He appeared on billboards, dyed his hair different colors, pierced his nose and dressed in drag. He also struggled with alcohol abuse, and attended rehab multiple times, ESPN reports.

Rodman retired from the NBA in 2000 following his release from the Mavericks, but he has continued to make headlines. He visited Kim Jong Un in North Korea multiple times in 2013 on what he called "basketball diplomacy tours." When he returned to North Korea in 2017, there were rumors that he was acting as a messenger for President Donald Trump, who Rodman also counts as a friend. When Kim and Trump met in 2018, Rodman gave a tearful interview with CNN wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat.

"I think Kim Jong Un wants peace," Rodman told Reuters in an interview Tuesday. "I know him very well, I think he wants peace."

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