As a rookie in the NBA, Dennis Rodman made an immediate impression as a 6-foot-8 rebounder with a penchant for wearing headbands—and even a habit of taking his jersey off in the middle of plays to reveal his bare midriff. John Salley, a 6-foot-11 Detroit Pistons forward, was known for leaping over the backboard at the end of games to celebrate and would be arrested for it. As “the Bad Boys” they were known as a team that would intimidate their opponents with their intimidating reputation.
We all know Dennis Rodman, the former NBA star who is now better known for being one of Donald Trump’s best friends. However, before he was a basketball player, he was a basketball player. He is also known for being one of the most hated players in NBA history. He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1986. If that name rings a bell, you would probably recognize the player who played with him on that team. That player was John Salley. He was selected by the Pistons in the 1984 draft.
In the early 1980s, Dennis Rodman was a skinny, shy high school basketball player who was picked by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the NBA Draft. After Rodman made a name for himself in the NBA, he went on to help the Washington Wizards win the NBA title in 1998.
Dennis Rodman has a reputation for being someone you don’t want to mess with in popular culture. The forward, who is most known for his stint with the Chicago Bulls, had a reputation for being a difficult customer. Even if his extracurricular actions aren’t taken into account, The Worm has shown to be a strong defender and a brave rebounder who is up for any battle. However, the forward was far lower in the pecking order during his first season with the Detroit Pistons.
Both John Salley and Rodman joined the Bad Boy Pistons before to the 1986 season. That team was certain to have the newcomers pay their dues, as you would anticipate.
To join the Detroit Pistons, John Salley and Dennis Rodman came from very different backgrounds.
Dennis Rodman was a member of the Savages, a collegiate basketball team. One of the greatest tales of all time is how a guy who didn’t play high school or college basketball until he was 21 became the best scorer, shooter, and rebounder in the league. pic.twitter.com/1Aqd5zlPNL
April 27, 2020 Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell)
While professional basketball may seem to be rather homogeneous from a cultural standpoint, every locker room includes a diverse array of individuals. Take Salley and Rodman, for example.
The former guy was born in New York City but attended Georgia Tech for his collegiate basketball career. With the Yellow Jackets, he had a big effect, averaging 12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game in his NCAA career. As a result of his performance, Salley entered the NBA draft in 1986 and was selected 11th overall by the Pistons.
Rodman, on the other hand, did not take the traditional route to the NBA. The adolescent didn’t have much athletic ability in high school and ended up working as an airport cleaner. However, a growth spurt prompted him to return to the court, and after a spell at community college and a transfer to Southeastern Oklahoma State, the forward had attracted the attention of NBA scouts. He was the 27th selection in the 1986 NBA draft and joined the Pistons.
The two rookies had an abysmal start to their NBA careers.
In 2004, John Salley (left) and Dennis Rodman (right) celebrated The Worm’s birthday. Getty Images/Robert Bertoia
While Rodman and Salley arrived to the Detroit Pistons from different backgrounds, they encountered a similar reality once they joined the team. Both guys found themselves at the bottom of the food chain, which meant they had to deal with their fair share of hazing.
“This is a tale about my rookie season,” says the narrator. In a 2010 Deadspin article, Salley said, “It’s training camp, and I get there, and I’m just crazy thrilled to be on the team.” “Now we’re in the gym, and we hear there are a bunch of ladies hanging around in the lobby. I’m not sure what they’re there for, but you know me, I’m curious. In addition, the team feeds us lunch and supper after practices and other activities. But first, Dennis Rodman and I must clean the locker room before we can go out to the lobby and eat. It’s also very unpleasant. Bill Laimbeer would hurl his jock against that wall, as well as his jersey against this one. “It’s just nasty.”
The newcomers’ difficulties, however, would not stop there. Rodman and Salley discovered that their lunches had already been taken care of when they finished cleaning.
The center added, “So Dennis and I are cleaning the locker room.” “The females are in the lobby,” says the narrator. The meal is already available. What do we discover after we’ve finished cleaning? What’s left is being devoured by these ladies. I’ve never been that angry in my whole life.”
Salley returned to his room to discover that his bed had been drenched with water as a last insult. While it’s unclear if Rodman was targeted in the same way, it’s hard to believe the Pistons veterans would attack one youngster while spare the other.
Everything worked out in the end for John Salley and Dennis Rodman.
Salley, as you would expect, did not like his rookie year; in fact, he went so far as to declare that he “hated” it. However, things worked out in the end for both him and Rodman.
Salley played in the NBA for a total of 12 seasons, earning four titles. Two of them were with the Bad Boy Pistons, and he also has rings from the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. While the New York native was never a spectacular scoring threat, he was a competent role player on some great teams.
Despite his peculiarities, Rodman had a professional path that was quite comparable to those of his contemporaries. The forward established a reputation for himself with his strong defense and relentless rebounding, winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy five times during his tenure with the Pistons and the Bulls.
To be clear, hazing is not acceptable. Dennis Rodman and John Salley, on the other hand, would definitely swap cleaning the locker room and skipping a meal for winning numerous NBA titles, based on their different careers.
Larry Bird ‘Schooled’ a Young Dennis Rodman With Some of His Signature Trash Talk: ‘Dennis, Are You Guarding Me?’ RELATED: Larry Bird ‘Schooled’ a Young Dennis Rodman With Some of His Signature Trash Talk: ‘Dennis, Are You Guarding Me?’
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