Dennis Rodman Dissed David Robinson On Flight, Hated Admiral’s Work Ethic

Dennis Rodman Bulls

Getty Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson

Five-time NBA champion, Dennis Rodman is was one of the most entertaining basketball players on the planet. The two-time NBA All-Star was crowned a seven-time NBA rebounding champion and survived playing on the Detroit Pistons’ bad-boy era squad with Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas.

Rodman would later team up with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on the Chicago Bulls under head coach Phil Jackson.

In between his time with the Pistons and the Bulls, Rodman was a member of the San Antonio Spurs. Rodman was teammates with David Robinson. A two-time NBA champ with the San Antonio Spurs and a ten-time NBA All-Star, Robinson was the NBA’s MVP in 1995 and to this day is well respected by his peers.

During a recent interview on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, notable author and hoops historian, Roland Lazenby shared with me that the two didn’t get along during their time as teammates in San Antonio and that in fact, Rodman and Robinson had to tape a Pepsi commerical together. Lazenby also shared that during their flight to tape the commercial, Rodman didn’t speak to Robinson.

Check out our Q&A below:

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Dennis Rodman during my childhood, I remember as a kid when I did radio with the Nets. I came in the locker room, Dennis Rodman was sitting in a chair Indian-style with pajama pants on. He had ankle socks on [laughs]…and Dennis, I tried to talk with him before the game and he wasn’t trying to talk to me. He was studying tape before the game. He literally had the chair in the middle of the room and was watching this drag-out TV. Almost like the drag-out TV in the 90’s that we used to watch movies in school – and he was just glued to the TV. His attention to detail and tape was baffling to me. And while people thought that he and Michael had conflicting personalities. I actually thought that they were very similar but just the practicalities were different.

ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 7: San Antonio Spurs’ David Robinson (L) tries to maneuver around Atlanta Hawks’ Todd Mundt during their NBA game 07 December in Atlanta. Robinson had 17 points going into a half time score of 55-55. (Photo credit should read DOUG COLLIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Roland Lazenby: That’s a good observation. I got to know Dennis. I used to do the Pistons stuff, I did their championship books and travel with them. I had a lot of fun. I had tremendous respect for Joe Dumars and Isiah and I got to know Dennis and he was just a kid. And he was so amazing even then you had to write about it. He was just starting to get some notoriety, and so the fact that he was a star in the NBA hadn’t dawned on him yet, nonetheless a Hall of Famer. And so I’d known Dennis for a while and of course Jack Haley that you mentioned at the top of the show and Jack was very close with Dennis. You know they both were Vegas guys, they like to go gambling, Jack was there in San Antonio, they brought him in to the Bulls just because they needed an interpreter [laughs]…the biggest thing about Dennis is when he came to the Bulls is that he didn’t speak to anybody. He didn’t talk. He had a lot of trouble respecting David Robinson because David was a brilliant man, he had 1300+ on his SAT’s, Naval Academy graduate, just so gifted in every way. Just a fascinating athlete, he could put a radio together, he could get a radio kit and assemble it for you, he just knew – everything. And he had so much ability but, he didn’t have a good work ethic when he came to practice. David’s got mad about this. I was covering the Spurs preseason camp back before Tim Duncan got there anyway, Rodman would not speak to David Robinson because he – they had to do a Pepsi commercial, had to fly in a small plane together for a bunch of hours and Rodman wouldn’t even address him. And Rodman could be like that. He’s a VERY different cat. He had some tough experiences, but what a great time to come along with all of these folks. A great time in basketball. It really set the stage for today. I’m still trying to decide because the game has changed so much, you can’t even compare a player today; I know everybody wants to do it but, Doncic said something to me because – he always got a stat: 20, 5, and 5 is a pretty good stat but asking now that he had tied Jordan for the longest string of games with 20 points and 5 assists and 5 rebounds and Doncic said, “It’s just a stat.” [laughs]…that does really say a lot about comparing with Jordan because you can’t compare with that guy. And they eliminated defense. The hand checks and all of that stuff and when they reinterpreted the rules in 2005 they did it for obvious reasons. They wanted to have – some of the games could get boring but it really became a game of calling a lot of fouls and you couldn’t touch an offensive player going to the basket, you saw it in the ’06 Finals when anybody laid a hand on Dwayne Wade. Of course Jordan played his whole career with just tremendous physical challenges. It wasn’t just the hand checking, there was a bar-arm everywhere, you had the bumping the cutter drills, that was coaching at that time. You know, somebody coming through the lane, you would knock the crap outta them. And if you didn’t knock the crap outta them – and bumping the cutters you would throw a forearm and do ‘em – and if you didn’t bump the cutters, they would put your butt on the bench unless you were a superstar. And so in the game now that’s gone. You can’t bump the cutter anymore. You can’t do any kind of hand check or any type of hands on — that’s why you see so many layups where people just go to the basket and go and it’s unfair and it’s hard to compare but, the game today has a whole bunch of different sets of challenges, it’s just very different. You can’t compare the game today with yesterday. There are things that were much more elevated in today than yesterday. Things yesterday that were much more elevated than they are today. It’s just like two different games.