The Evolution of Dennis Rodman's NBA Sneaker Style
In an era blessed with big personalities, Dennis Rodman stood head and shoulders above the rest. He was a wild man both on and off the court, and he channelled that madness to become arguably the greatest defensive player the NBA has ever seen, eventually retiring with five championship rings to complement his otherwise questionable jewellery choices.
When it came to sneakers, Dennis spent his career jumping between brands almost as often as he jumped between girlfriends. Kicking things off with a fling with the ‘Bok, he soon moved on to swing hands with the Swoosh, before finally settling down with Converse. It was a tumultuous time, but what do you expect? It’s Dennis Rodman we’re talking about here, people!
BAD BOY BEGINNINGS
Drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1986 at pick 27, Dennis went from being a relative unknown to becoming the nastiest member of the infamous ‘Detroit Bad Boys’. Known for their robust in-your-face, defence-oriented style, Detroit won consecutive championships in 1989 and 1990 off the back of Dennis’ rebounding prowess and relentless tenacity. Despite his individuality, he was revered as a consummate team player, and his sneaker choices during this era reflected just that.
Aside from instigating the occasional melee, Dennis let his play do most of the talking on court, opting for somewhat understated Reebok classics such as the BB 5600 and the Pump Omni Zone II. However, it was a switch over to the Swoosh in ‘88 that coincided with his best years in Motown. The super high-cut Nike Air Revolution was his weapon of choice, with its cross-strap, inner bootie, and midsole Air cushioning tech representing an evolutionary period for both Nike and ‘The Worm’ alike.
THE SWOOSH YEARS
Dennis’ Detroit stint soon grew stale, and a high-profile trade to San Antonio in 1993-94 would coincide with him becoming one of the most recognisable players in the NBA — though that Sports Illustrated cover and his ever-changing hair colour may have had something to do with that.
His time with the Spurs is remembered for the debut the Nike Air Darwin — a shoe considered by many as his first ‘signature’ sneaker. Nike never acknowledged Dennis’ ties to the Darwin, but it wasn’t long before the brand bestowed him with an official signature — the Air Worm Ndestrukt — in 1996.
Unsurprisingly, the Air Worm reeked of Dennis’ rock-n-roll wildness, with its zipper shroud, metal heel-pull ring, and low-cut silhouette unlike anything else on the market at the time. Unfortunately, the Air Worm Ndestrukt never made it to the court — maybe they were too wild? However, during the 1996 All-Star Break, Dennis would debut arguably his greatest-ever sneaker — the Air Shake Ndestrukt. Characterised by its off-centre lacing, the left-field design was a match made in signature sneaker heaven.
THE CONS CROSSOVER
Converse wrestled Dennis away from his Nike deal in 1997, putting the league’s most controversial character at the forefront of its performance basketball lineup. To no one’s surprise, the deal wasn’t all smooth sailing, but that didn’t stop CONS from dropping some of the most memorable (and underrated) signature sneakers ever.
The Converse All Star 91 kicked things off in understated fashion, with Dennis rocking and somewhat minimal full-grain leather ballers at the start of the 1997 Playoffs. However, things did take a wild turn come his third and final season with the Bulls. Inspired by his famed tattoos, the ambitious All Star Rodman would go down as his most memorable Converse sneaker. Featuring REACT technology (no, not that React), the All Star Rodman was highlighted by its tribal detailing and unmistakable sun logo on the side.
Dennis closed out his career playing at the Lakers and Dallas wearing the forgettable D-Rod High, and it’s a bit of shame that his sneaker career had to end that way. But hey, we guess he had his mind on high heels by that stage.