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Ball Don't Lie

Dennis Rodman meets his father, Philander Rodman, after 42 years of separation

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Dennis Rodman poses with his Basketball Half of Fame trophy. (Getty Images)

Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman doesn't know his father well. The aptly named Philander Rodman left Dennis' mother 48 years ago, and the former Pistons, Spurs, Bulls, Lakers and Mavericks forward hadn't seen his father for 42 years. Until recently, that is, when a barnstorming team Dennis plays for stumbled into Manila in the Philippines, and Dennis surprisingly agreed to a short meeting with his father.

From the Associated Press:

Philander Rodman Jr., who has acknowledged fathering 29 children by 16 mothers, says he was happy and surprised that his son agreed to meet him late Wednesday. He tried to meet the basketball Hall of Famer during another game in Manila in 2006.

Philander, who has been living in the Philippines for nearly 50 years, said Thursday he wanted to explain to his son that he didn't abandon his family in the United States, but they only had time for greetings and handshakes.

That's correct. Twenty-nine children by 16 mothers. So, without any visual evidence to support it, you can at least assume that Dennis (who clearly, and we're not making some dry joke, suffers from incredible shyness and social anxiety) kept his sunglasses on and the discussion was brief. Dennis has a hard time talking to former teammates he once won championships with, so the father that left his house when he was 3 probably isn't the easiest to gab with.

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Philander Rodman

Here's Dennis' take on his father, from his 1996 memoir "Bad As I Want To Be," with some cursing removed:

"I never really knew my father, Philander Rodman. He was in the Air Force in New Jersey, where I was born, and when I was three we packed up and came back to Dallas where my mother is from. We did this when my father stopped coming home.

My father isn't part of my life. I haven't seen him in more than thirty years, so what is there to miss? I just look at it like this: Some man brought me into this world. That doesn't mean I have a father; I don't. I could say, 'This is my father. This is my dad,' but that doesn't sound right to me. I grew up with my mother and two younger sisters, Debra and Kim. There wasn't a male role model in my life until I got to college and started getting my [act] together."

The AP went on to mention that Rodman's father currently runs something called Rodman's Rainbow Obamaburger in the Philippines; which I'm sure is about as tactful and classy an establishment as can be expected by the father of 29 children by 16 women who tried to cram two different famous names into the name of his restaurant while appearing on the restaurant's website wearing a bootleg Chicago Bulls jersey with the name "Rodman" emblazoned on the front instead of the word "CHICAGO."

Dennis Rodman, who has had his own issues with paying child support, probably wouldn't take too happily to Philander's assertion that he is Dennis' "long lost dad," on the same website. Philander wasn't lost, he was just gone. And, to hear Dennis tell it, neither father nor son minded much.

Perhaps there still is space enough in this world for the two to move beyond "greetings and handshakes," but that's a bit of a stretch at this point. And you have to wonder, as Philander affixes another sticker of Dennis in uniform to his menus, how the other 28 children feel about any of this.

In the interim, Rodman thinks this could be the start of an improved relationship. From the AP:

''I've been trying to meet him for years. And then last night, boom, I met him. I was really, really happy and very surprised,'' he told The Associated Press.

''I really, really felt good,'' he said. ''It's the beginning of something new.''

After the decades spent apart, that's nice to hear.

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