Dennis Rodman strode into the VIP tent at Woodbine, colourful scarves trailing from his belt, hair dyed a rather reserved (for him) russet colour, head held high, cameramen swarming him like fruit flies. He's still famous – or infamous – at 50.
As usual, Rodman, in yet another unusual role as honorary draw master for the $1.5-million Pattison Canadian International Championship, had plenty to say. And no apologies for anybody.
Such as this: As strange as it sounds, the Man of Many Piercings, a former basketball star, said players should bow to owners in the current NBA lockout.
"We went through a strike in 1999, we went half the season, and the owners bowed down," Rodman said. "The owners gave the players everything."
Now, Rodman said, the players should do the same thing for the owners, because most teams are losing money. "And they don't understand that," Rodman said. "It's not the players' fault. It's the owners' fault. But I think they [the players]should give a little bit, and that way, things will move on."
Say what you will about Rodman, who once promoted his autobiographies by wearing a wedding dress and lying in a coffin, but he disparaged today's NBA players as money hungry. "Most players don't give a damn about the game," he said. "They want the money."
Rodman said he's not taking the owners' side, but thinks players should ask themselves what they've accomplished in years they've earned as much as $16-million. "Most players haven't accomplished anything," Rodman said.
Players such as Michael Jordon, Scottie Pippin and Larry Bird really knew basketball, Rodman said. And they played it for the love of the game.
What would Rodman say about Jordan? "The greatest."
And LeBron James? "He wishes," Rodman blurts.
Rodman characterized Jordan as a man who was on top of the NBA for 10 years while earning only $2.5-million a season, complaining little on the court over calls. "You never seen Michael Jordan complaining, going to the labour union. You never seen him do all that crap. … He still loved the game."
Rodman said he no longer plays basketball, though his children do. He flits about the world having fun, he said, adding he owns a construction company, a couple of restaurants and – he mumbled, seemingly embarrassed – a couple of strip clubs, too.
He enjoys going to the racetrack, he said, frequenting Los Alamitos and Hollywood Park in California and Gulfstream Park in Florida, which he said is five minutes from his house. He's been to the Kentucky Derby five times, and attended the Derby party last year, but noted: "Not too many black people go to those races."
Rodman said he's surprised he's still alive, given his background and capers, admitted he hasn't always been a good husband or father, and noted that he's been "selfish in my own way."
"I'm not a bad guy," he said. "I show my emotions. I think it takes a real man to step up to the plate [and admit it] But all of the things I've done, people still like me."
And so it appeared. Jockey Patrick Husbands, who will ride 15-1 shot Simmard in the International, pushed his way up to Rodman for a photograph, his eyes lighting up as he looked way up beside the much, much taller Worm.