Sleep deprivation has turned us into a punchy and expansive pair. Rodman is talking about life, philosophy, his divorce and getting naked in public, which naturally leads to Madonna. Rodman has great respect for his former squeeze, who has done a lot to promote homosexual lifetsyles. Rodman often goes to gay bars in San Antonio and doesn't shy away from hugging and kissing male friends. He says that's as far as it has gone, "but I visualize being with another man. Everybody visualizes being gay—they think, Should I do it or not? The reason they can't is because they think it's unethical. They think it's a sin. Hell, you're not bad if you're gay, and it doesn't make you any less of a person."
Rodman's eyes are glistening, but he is not laughing. I ask him if he thinks about dying young. "Sometimes I say I'm going to play basketball and go-go-go until I drop dead," he says. "I'm not afraid of dying at all. It's just the next boundary."
Does he contemplate suicide?
"Sure. Sometimes I dream about just taking a gun and blowing my head off. If I ever know it's time to die, I'll head for a waterfall and camp out for a day, knowing I only have 24 hours to live, fly off the waterfall and just juuune."
The next question is whether Rodman's fantasies include murder. "Yeah, I'd kill somebody—in my mind," he says. "All of a sudden I lose control of what I'm doing. I'm in a torture chamber, and I've got to fight my way out. I definitely come out with a vengeance."
And who, in this fantasy, does Rodman most want to kill? "The person I used to be. He tried to be something he wasn't. He wanted everybody to like him because he was an athlete who had this and had that. He was dead wrong."
Rodman and I get to Houston with an hour layover before the connection to San Antonio and head to an airport bar to watch the last quarter of the Rocket-Sun game, with the winner to face the Spurs. "We should be there, SI," Rodman mumbles forcefully, and then we're drinking beer and eating gumbo and talking about which NBA players have the most guts. Hakeem Olajuwon, who is leading the Rockets to victory, is an obvious choice. "Best center in the game," Rodman says, placing Robinson, his teammate, second. He also picks Tim Hardaway and Clyde Drexler and the underappreciated Danny Ainge. The Suns expire as we race to catch the flight.
Back in San Antonio, Rodman returns from the team dinner. "Ever been to a gay bar?" he asks.
At 11 p.m., propped up by adrenaline and chocolate-covered coffee beans, I'm in the passenger seat of Rodman's custom Ford monster truck. "Everyone in the state knows my truck," Rodman says of the pink-and-white vehicle, "and they all know where I live."
Much later, after a night of drinking and dancing at that hopping gay bar, we pull up to his house and find the trees out front streamed with toilet paper. A carload of young revelers passes by, leaving a wake of unintelligible yells. We walk through the back door, past the four bottles of Goldschlager in the backup refrigerator, and understand each other without speaking. I will write all night and then be gone, out of Rodman's whirlwind, leaving him alone to pursue his calling as an unfettered spirit. Rodman's German shepherds are barking unconscionably, and his exotic birds are squawking with abandon. The Spurs' 10 a.m. practice will begin in a few hours.