DALLAS - Mark Cuban was in the process of buying the Dallas Mavericks while, as a season-ticket-owner himself, noticing how the sad-sack franchise's game stories couldn't even get on the front page of the local newspaper's sports section.
So why in February 2000 did Cuban sign the outrageous Dennis Rodman, consider letting him wear No. 69, look the other way for a while as he broke every team rule, and let him live in the pool house of his new Preston Hollow mansion?
"One day the Mavs couldn't get onto the front page of the Dallas Morning News,'' Cuban told me then. "We signed Dennis, and the next day we're on the front page of 'Le Figaro'' (the French newspaper), we're on the BBC, we're in every paper in the world.''
The NBA didn't allow Rodman, who'd previously starred as an outrageous member of the world-champion Chicago Bulls (the subject of the documentary "The Last Dance''), to wear the sexually-suggestive jersey. So he settled No. 70 ... and let his reputation with the ladies - including relationships with pop stars Madonna and Carmen Electra - handle itself. ("The Last Dance'' tells stories of Rodman and Electra having sex on the Bulls court and of Michael Jordan dealing with it all).
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“It was definitely an occupational hazard to be Dennis’s girlfriend,” Electra says in the show.
On his way to a Hall-of-Fame career with his hometown Mavs as his final NBA stop, Rodman, then 38, dyed his hair in polka-dots, refused to take showers, ignored coach Don Nelson's instructions, ripped the Mavs roster (which included Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki) and challenged the NBA commissioner to a naked boxing match.
Rodman played just 12 games in Dallas uniform - scoring 34 points and 171 rebounds - before taking his circus act elsewhere. ... an act now on full display as part of "The Last Dance.''