Dennis Rodman, whose on- and off-the-court antics take center stage in the ESPN docuseries The Last Dance (which hits Netflix July 19), is known for his personal life as much as his incredible basketball record. Though it isn’t explicitly discussed in the series, fans of the player may remember all too well what might be considered his most high-profile relationship. Rodman and Madonna dated in 1994 (sources sometimes place the relationship later, but 1994 appears to be the relevant time period, per his 30 for 30 episode). The two only dated for two months, but it was highly publicized. Speculation is that Madonna may have had an effect on Rodman’s style and interest in publicity stunts at the time—like showing up to his book signing in a wedding dress in 1996—but Rodman has said she didn’t influence him. So what do we know about this couple?
Madonna and Rodman’s relationship was short but…wild.
Apparently, when the two met, Madonna locked Rodman in her hotel room and said, “I’m not letting you out.” He said he thought her music “sucked” and refused to call her Madonna, instead referring to her as “Tita.”
After the two dated, Rodman was fairly open about their sexual practices in memoir Bad As I Wanna Be. He also claimed, according to multiple sources, that Madonna wanted him to impregnate her (in some versions, he claims she offered him millions to do so, which Madonna denies). In his memoir, he said, “Madonna talked all the time about having a baby. I think she wanted every bit of Dennis Rodman—marriage, kids, everything.”
At one point while he was gambling in Vegas, “I picked up the phone and Madonna was like, ‘I’m ovulating, I’m ovulating. Get your ass up here’. So I left my chips on the table, flew five hours to New York and did my thing.” He added, “We got done and she was standing on her head in an attempt to promote conception—just like any girl trying to get pregnant. I flew back to Las Vegas and picked up my game where I left off.” Madonna doesn’t appear to have commented on that story.
Regarding a highly publicized story about Madonna coming into the Bulls locker room, Rodman commented on that as well:
She saw me the last game of the season in Los Angeles in 1994. She was sitting in the front row with her friends, looking all Madonna-ish. After the game, she’s sitting at my locker. I was like, ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ I didn’t invite her. She just came in and sat down. And all the players were like, ‘What the hell is she doing here?’ They didn’t care; they had their towels on. They just wanted their picture with her. She was not shocked, she was just laughing, talking with the guys. And I went back to her house.
Rodman has downplayed the relationship since.
Unlike with Carmen Electra, who he said he’d marry again if he got the chance, Rodman doesn’t speak as much about madonna. He said in his memoir that he didn’t want dating Madonna to eclipse his own identity. He did say he thought they were a “perfect match” but that “I still think of myself as this guy who had to claw his way up from a job as a janitor to get anything in life. So to be making a decision on how serious to get with Madonna was more than I could handle.”
In an interview he gave while he was still with the Spurs, around 2:25, he talks about the fact that they had a fling, downplaying their relationship and saying they’re “friends”:
To USA Today, Rodman explained that neither Madonna nor ex Carmen Electra were asked to be a part of his 30 for 30 episode “Rodman: For Better or Worse.” “We had a nice little fling. That came and gone. Madonna didn’t influence me to be a fashion and creative guru. We came together in the perfect time. She was stagnating in her career, and I was coming up. We helped to motivate each other, going in the same direction at that particular time.”
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