Longform

Dennis Rodman: From Basketball Bad Boy to Dubious Diplomat

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Adds Gigi Peterson: "Dennis cannot hide. One time he told me: 'You know why I drink? Because the moment I step out these doors, I have to entertain. And I don't feel like doing it. I'm trapped.' "

It's true, even at obscure South Florida locations where he thinks he's safe — such as Cheetah in Hallandale Beach. At 11:30 p.m. last Tuesday, Rodman emerged from the strip club. A stunning 20-something on his arm giggled while he smoked a cigar. His driver was late, and Rodman grimaced. He wore white Reebok athletic pants and red shoes. His hair was still dyed blond from New York.

A tall man approached him, but the former basketball star declined conversation, instead extending a large paw for a fist bump. "Do your job," Rodman said and turned away.

A taxi approached Cheetah, and Rodman at first thought it was for him. But two venture-capitalist types got out and began laughing. "Dennis, I love you, man," one said. "Can I get your picture?"

Rodman's face tightened, but he acquiesced to two photos. "It doesn't embarrass you, does it?" one of them asked. The two men disappeared into Cheetah but immediately deleted their pictures of Rodman. "He's a private person," one of them said.

Outside, Rodman picked up an orange traffic cone and yelled into it. "Hey, everybody!" he screeched. "This is Cheetah!"

The young woman laughed at the buffoonery, and a black Suburban finally rolled up. "What's up, white guy?" Rodman said to the driver, and climbed into the SUV. Slowly, it pulled out of the parking lot, ascended onto I-95 heading north, and disappeared.

Launce Rake contributed reporting from Las Vegas.

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Terrence McCoy