SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Looks like ``The Worm’’ has turned once again.
Where once Dennis Rodman virtually disowned his years at Southeastern Oklahoma State, now he embraces it. He says he appreciates the hours then-assistant coach Lonn Reisman put in with him working the boards, teaching him how to become a dominant rebounder. How going to such a small school gave him a chance that might’ve never happened had he gone to a major hoops power. And even how different his life might’ve turned out — as scary a proposition as that is for a man who’s been known to wear a dress and do other outrageous things on a regular basis.
Funny how perspective can change when you’re about to be immortalized into the Basketball Hall of Fame, like Rodman and nine others will be Friday night.
“Mind-wise, yes, it helped me. Physically, no,” Rodman said during Thursday’s media session, where he said among other things that he really doesn’t consider himself Hall worthy, though he won’t decline the honor. “It kept me grinding through college. It kept me grinding in the NBA.
“It kept me mentally prepared. I just felt focused and wanted to get better and better and better. That was a big part of it.”
But life in Durant wasn’t particularly easy for the young Worm, who singled out one family for making his years there tolerable.
“There were a few bumps in the road,” said Rodman, wearing a black warm-up suit with jeweled sunglasses and his trademark nose-ring for the occasion, “but I had a lot of good people who actually cared about Dennis Rodman the human being, not Dennis Rodman the athlete.
“James and Pat Rich, the whole family really took care of me. They actually embraced me for three years and sacrificed a lot to have me in their home.
“But that’s almost 30 years ago.”
Sadly, the Riches won’t be there to share in Rodman’s joy, having tragically lost one of their sons recently.