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Detroit Pistons Should Retire Dennis Rodman's #10 Jersey

COMMENTARY | the Detroit Pistons announced that on April 1, when they play the Chicago Bulls in Auburn Hills, the ball club is going to honor Dennis Rodman and retire his #10 basketball jersey. Critics question whether Rodman deserves this honor. I know nothing about basketball and care even less about it. But I do know people and how they think. And right is right.

If you clicked on this article expecting to read about Dennis Rodman's basketball career, you won't find that here. This article isn't about stats, rebounds and lay-ups. (Like I know what those are anyway?) If the NBA and Detroit Pistons say Rodman should be honored, I figure they know their own sport and can make that call.

I'm coming at this issue from a "what does it take to be called a hero?" perspective. Opponents of the Rodman jersey retirement don't have any problem with his ball-playing. It's pretty much Dennis himself and his lifestyle they object to. Citing Rodman's "troubled off-the-court lifestyle", nay-sayers wonder whether he has earned the right to such an honor.

Born and raised in one of the roughest neighborhoods in a mind-numbingly rough city (Houston), Rodman's mother raised him and his siblings with no help from his dad. "Philander" Rodman is said to have fathered 27 children and not been there for any of them. Philander(er) is a good name for him. Growing up in his sisters' shadow, Rodman didn't even start playing basketball until after high school and a nine inch growth spurt.

In his book "Bad as I Wanna Be, " Rodman describes poignantly like to">what it's like to feel afraid, insecure, shy and ashamed. He shares how his introversion led him to question his sexuality, but more importantly his purpose for being.

Rodman explains how he "reinvented" himself as a bad boy persona. The dyed hair, tattoos, piercings, bombastic behavior, the wedding dress, the Hollyweird marriage to Carmen Electra, these are part of the self re-certification. As a person moves from a state of negative self-image to a healthier "I'm OK" reality, there are potholes along the road. And these are pretty tame potholes. No drugs, steroids, no one got hurt. Some celebs have not transitioned nearly so well.

Rodman is just playing out the laws of physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Coming from poverty of mind and spirit, into a sense of person-hood, is a pendulum process. As the pendulum swings, it circumscribes a full arc; it has to go as far in the opposite direction as it did in the original direction.

So I take two counter-exceptions to Rodman's critics. First, the Pistons are retiring a jersey, not starting a cause for canonization. He's a basketball player and they are honoring him for that. If "pure lifestyle" is a prereq for a sports honor, has any sports figure in history deserved their award? Does any award winner in any arena deserve it?

So Rodman is a "maverick"? Cool. We need more mavericks and less herd mentality. Rock on, Rodman. A life-long resident of "Pure Michigan", Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben writes for the Yahoo! Contributor Network about people and policies, education and economy, natural resources and social justice in Michigan.

By Marilisa Sachteleben - A 25-year educator (K-8, EI, CI), mom of 4 and 10-year homeschool vet, Marilisa writes for parents and teachers on education topics from autism to zoology. She s taught preschool to adult ed and specializes...  

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