The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER Says: “I’m sorry, Dennis. I didn’t know…” by Brad Eastland

July 24, 2012
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     I enjoy being unpredictable.

     I figure since it’s a quality I admire and appreciate in others, why shouldn’t I practice it myself?   For instance, I know that everybody I know is predicting that I shall surely dedicate this week’s column to the just-concluded Open Championship of golf (a.k.a. the British Open), because everyone who knows me knows it’s pretty much my favorite sporting event of the year.   More looked-forward-to, even, than the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Breeders Cup, or Wimbledon.   Therefore, everyone just naturally expects me to devote four or five pages of pitch-and-putt prose exclusively to the Open, like I do pretty much every year. 

     And yes, it was great.   Yes, as does every golf ‘major’, this year’s Open proved once again, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Sunday golf at a major championship is the most tense, most delicious, most compelling theater in all of Sport.  Yes, it was heartwarming to see Ernie Els, deep into his 40s, become the 2nd such man in a row (the similarly middle-aged Darren Clarke won the Open last year) to overcome tragedy in his personal life and somehow, some way, grab hold of the Claret Jug in his 5th decade of life. 

Like father, like son???

Like father, like son???


     And yes, on the other side of the coin, it was heartbreaking to see Adam Scott completely fall apart on the back nine.   He started the day a whopping four shots in front.   As he stood on the 16h green, lining up a little 3-foot putt for par, the talented, Errol-Flynn-handsome Aussie still had a nearly-insurmountable 3-shot lead.   Just a little 3-footer for par.   But the moment was simply too much for him.   He missed it.

     He missed, Els banged in a 15-foot birdie on the 18th, Scott bogeyed 17 and 18, thereby finishing the day with four straight bogeys, bogey bogey bogey bogey, and thus earned an excruciating, painful to watch, memorable for all time one-stroke defeat.   It all happened with breathtaking speed and suddenness.   In a word, he choked.   It was awful.

     Seriously.   If the definition of the word “choke”, in sports, is when an athlete’s nerves aren’t equal to the moment, and that therefore his play collapses so badly as to turn likely victory into bitter defeat, Adam Scott will forever be the perfect example of that awful word.

     But I’m not going to write about all that.   (okay, I’m not going to write any more about all that)

     Because I saw an article on the ‘Net the other day which demands my immediate attention.   About an athlete who was all about attracting attention.

     Dennis Rodman.

     Remember him?   Played for the Detroit Pistons, the Lakers, and several other teams?   Five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, seven-time NBA rebounding champion?   One of the best rebounding forwards in basketball history?   A Hall-of-Fame player?   Of course you remember Dennis.

     And if you don’t, let me further refresh your memory.   This is the same Dennis Rodman who once dated Madonna.   This is the same Dennis Rodman who was married to Carmen Electra.  The same Dennis Rodman who once wrote a book entitled Bad As I Wanna Be.   Whose wife (not Carmen, a different wife) wrote a rebuttal book, Worse Than He Says He Is.   Remember when Dennis dyed his hair green?   Orange?   Red?   Yellow?   He did, all of them, and played in NBA ballgames under all those pretty colors.   Remember his ear-piercings?   His body piercings?   Nose piercings?   Remember how he would peel his shirt off immediately after being ejected from games for complaining?   Remember when he declared that his new jersey-number would be number 69, but the Lakers (thank God) wouldn’t let him wear it?   Remember all the brushes with the law, the divorces, spousal abuse, loud parties?   Dennis Rodman, remember?   Part-time actor, part-time wrestler, part-time alcoholic?

     Yeah.   That’s the guy.

     Anyway, I just found out why Dennis is so screwed up!

     First of all, let me define a word for you.   The word is “philander”.   The official Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of philander is: “verb:  (of a man) Readily or frequently entering into casual sexual relationships with women“.   Makes sense, right?   Philander the verb, philanderer the noun, philandering the adjective etc.?  

     Here’s a 2nd definition for philander:  verb: (of a man) To make love with a woman one cannot or will not marry; carry on flirtations.”    Okay.  

     And finally, a 3rd definition for the same word: intransitive verb (of a man): To have casual or illicit sex with a woman or with many women; especially, to be sexually unfaithful to one’s wife.”    Got it.

     I also looked up the word-origin for you.   It derives from Greek mythology, from “Philandros”, who apparently was a son of the sun god Apollo and the nymph Acalle.   In Greek, Philandros means “friend of man”.   (Don’t know why it doesn’t mean friend of woman, but whatever.)   Some people, as in men, used to actually be named Philander back in olden times; that is until around the 18th Century or so, when the term “ to philander” came to be synonymous with “to womanize”.   Then, for obvious reasons, the name dropped out of use.

     Anyway, you get the idea.

     We grew up hearing the expressions, “That guy’s a born philanderer”, or “that man philanders on his wife all the time”, etc.   We remember.   It means a guy who compulsively messes around.   We all know this.

     Cool word, philander.   Very evocative, very descriptive.  

     Hold that thought….

     Now, back to Dennis Rodman.

     Since Rodman retired from basketball about 15 years ago, he hasn’t been in the news much.   (That’s why I wanted to make sure you remembered who he was.)   But a couple days ago, that article I read put him in the news once again.   Apparently, up until a couple weeks ago, Rodman (age 51) had not seen his own father in 42 years.   The senior Rodman has been living in The Philippines since abandoning Dennis and Dennis’ mother when Dennis was a little kid.   I myself already knew that Rodman was estranged from his father.   In the aforementioned classic of literature Bad As I Wanna Be, Rodman goes on at great length about how much he hates him.   Or, more accurately, hated him.   Past tense.

     Because they finally met.   At an airport in The Philippines.   After 42 years.   Rodman was in The Philippines to take part in a charity basketball game between the all-retired “NBA Alumni” team and a bunch of Philippe all-stars.   It was the first time the senior Rodman and son Dennis had seen each other since December of 1969.

     The reunited father and son spent roughly three minutes together.   Why rush it?

     Anyway, great story.   But Rodman meeting up with his father for the first time since Nixon was president would not have been, by itself, enough to take the Sports Philosopher’s attention away from the Open, and from Ernie Els ruthlessly yanking the Claret Jug away from the shell-shocked Adam Scott.   Not even close.  

     But get this: Turns out the elder Rodman (age 71), just like his son Dennis, is a frisky kinda guy.   He likes girls.   A lot.   In fact, he admits to having sired at least 29 children (including Dennis) that he knows about… 16 different women.


     Think about that for a minute.   Do you have any idea how much energy, planning, not planning, and utter commitment to the sacred church of philandering that would require???

     And consider this.   That figure—29 kids—is merely the minimum the elder Rodman will acknowledge or admit to.   In his incredible book, Dennis Rodman mentions that he is “one of 47 children” sired by his old man.   So is it 47 or 29?   Those two need to get their facts straight.   (Maybe next time they meet they can spend a whole ten or eleven minutes together in order to sort it all out, rather than just three.)

     Okay, if you’re like me, you’re laughing right now.   Because it’s all too ridiculous for words.   But that’s not the whole story.   Here’s the kicker: You know what the elder Rodman’s first name is?   It’s beyond funny, beyond ridiculous, beyond perfect.   Have you already figured it out?


     Philander Rodman, Jr.

     The biggest philanderer of all time (or close to it) is named Philander!   I love it.   Do you suppose as he was growing up he thought that since he was named Philander that that meant he was required to philander?   I mean for the father of 29 kids (or 47 kids) by a whole stable of apparently altogether-willing women to be named Philander Rodman is roughly the equivalent of being named Bangeverythinginsightwithyourrod,man.….isn’t it?

     A couple of obvious questions beg to be asked.   Was Philander Rodman, Sr. (Dennis’ grandpappy) as big a ‘lech’ as Philander Rodman, Jr.?   And why didn’t Philander Rodman, Jr. name Dennis after himself—as in Philander Rodman III?   Maybe this explains why Dennis isn’t as prolific as his dad.   At last count he had only three children.   Three measly offspring.   Which puts him either 26 or 44 kids behind his dad in overall productivity….

     It’s like I’ve always said.   As funny as the funniest comedian is, or even the funniest writer, nothing in the world is as funny as the simple, every-day occurrences and anecdotes that happen around us every single day.

     I’m sorry, Dennis.   I didn’t know.   No wonder you were so weird back in the day.   I take back every nasty thing I ever said about you.   You never had a chance….

     And as for you, my loyal LVO readership:  Next time you think you don’t dig your parents, or you’re having daddy issues, or you wish your parents—particularly your father—had provided you with a more solid, fundamentally sound childhood, just pull out this column and re-read it a couple times.

     You’ll feel better instantly.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0021

Brad Eastland is an author, an historian, a film buff, undiscovered literary savant, and a lover of stories about people in sports who can’t keep their pants zipped.   Brad’s other recent columns for La Verne Online can be found in the Sports Section under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.   His columns on very old and very underappreciated movies can be found by clicking Arts & Entertainment, then clicking ’Upon Further Review’.   Brad has also written 4 fine novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack (and of triumph  and utter despair) entitled WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for that title in both hardback and paperback on,, or   And then order it.   And then READ it.   And then tell everyone about it.   And then read it again.   And then post your praise on Facebook.   For all this he thanks you…..







One Response to “The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER Says: “I’m sorry, Dennis. I didn’t know…” by Brad Eastland”

  1. Funny, Funny, Funny.
    Our Dad, who was way above average, would have loved this story!

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