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Former NBA bad boy comes to Naperville to talk about his new children’s book

Former Chicago Bull NBA Hall Famer Dennis Rodman signs copies his new childrens book 'Dennis Wild Bull' Saturday February 2

Former Chicago Bull and NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman signs copies of his new childrens book, "Dennis the Wild Bull," on Saturday, February 2, 2013, at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

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Rodman talks about writing,

Former Bulls’ flamboyant power forward Dennis Rodman, who still ranks among the NBA’s best ever rebounders, appeared Saturday at Anderson’s Bookshop to promote his new children’s book, “Dennis the Wild Bull.” After signing books for about 90 minutes for approximately 300 fans, Rodman spoke with The Sun about writing as well as offering a look back at his NBA career.

Q: When did you get the idea to write this book?

A: “It crossed my mind when I was in Boston and these guys came up to me and asked if I’d like to write another book. I thought I had things all in place and then all of a sudden it dawned on me: What about a children’s book? The only scary thing about it was, would people believe it? I’m a kid at heart myself and I just thought this would be a different venture and that kids today got to have some type of role model, you know, with all the bullying going on in school and kids trying to be big and bad. This book shows it’s OK to be different. Kids are growing up so fast today. This may slow them down a little bit.”

Q: How much of the writing did you do?

A: “The book started out more like ‘Harry Potter’ in the beginning and I said wait a minute, hold on, let’s go back and redo this and we went back and redid it three or four times, and toned it down a little bit. My plan was to do three or four books like this as kind of a collage and this will probably be the easiest one you’re going to read here. This is kind of like the starter kit, and there’s more to come and my life is pretty much seen through this book.”

Q: Given your background as a player and the person you are off the court, a lot of people probably don’t take Dennis Rodman serious as a children’s author. How do you respond to that?

A: “I’ve heard a lot of things like that as far as my being in the spotlight over the years and I think it’s funny that people who know me really well, I think when I get emotional I talk about kids a lot, and if my daughter can do it, I can do it, and I really mean what I say in these books. Like I said, just keep it fun, keep it animated. Like I said, you can believe what you want to believe, but you know what? Books like this don’t lie. It’s just fun at heart.”

Q: The character in the book is a bull, but you played for other teams. Are you kind of giving a shout out to the Bulls?

A: “I think it’s catchier that way. If I said hey — Dennis Rodman, the Wild Piston, that wouldn’t make any sense ... I think it was a better character for kids to understand because people relate to me with the Chicago Bulls and stuff like that.”

Q: Are the Bulls the favorite team you played with in your career?

A: “I think that was a very great time in my life with the Bulls at the right time and the right place and everything worked out pretty well. I think with Detroit it was more like I was just trying to get my feet wet and understand the system and understand the lifestyle and once I got to the Chicago Bulls, everything just took off.”

Q: How do you feel about the fact you are still one of the percentage rebound leaders in NBA history?

A: “I never thought about that. There’s a lot of things people don’t know about me because I don’t even know it. I got in the Hall of Fame, which was a shock to me because I didn’t even average double figures (in scoring) and it’s very difficult to get in the Hall of Fame without averaging double figures and it’s very difficult to get in as a defensive player. So I’m very grateful for that and it was great for my kids to see that.”

Q: What do you miss the most about basketball?

A: “Well, you won’t be writing that.”

Q: This year the Bulls, even without Derrick Rose, is in third place in the Eastern Conference. How do you think the team is doing this year?

A: “I think they’ll be fine. They just need to understand you’ve got to play together every night and when guys are hurt, you have to guys come off the bench to where they put forth the effort and go out there and win.”

Q: Could you play in the NBA today, given the rule changes and things that have happened?

A: “I wouldn’t even want to play today. It wouldn’t be as fun. It’s way too controlled, too balanced, too controlled with the fouls and stuff like that. Back then, you could go out there and just bang, man, and have a good time. Hit, shove, do anything you want. Now it’s more like you can’t even look right.”

Q: Dennis Rodman played at the right time and the right place, is that it?

A: “A lot of guys back then, like I said in the late ‘80s and mid-90s, hey man, there were some really great players back then and those guys back then knew how to play.”

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Updated: February 4, 2013 12:10PM

Chicago Bulls’ fans won’t soon forget the exploits of Michael Jordan and company as the team blew through the NBA playoffs and fought their way to six world championships throughout the 1990s.

On Saturday, one of the pivotal — and most controversial — players of that era came to Naperville, wearing the unlikely label of children’s book author.

At 2:30 p.m., Dennis Rodman appeared at Anderson’s Bookshop before a sold out crowd of fans, many of whom confessed they came more for the chance to see the bad boy in person than because the book seemed so compelling.

“I collect sports autographs so that’s why I came,” said young McKinley Neville, 11, of Batavia. “I didn’t see him play but I’ve watched a number of YouTube highlights of him and he seems like he’s a pretty good guy, even if he was a little crazy off the court.”

Rodman appeared about a half hour later than scheduled wearing a gray sports coat and scarf, along with sunglasses and a baseball cap with “Chicago” emblazoned across the front, while sporting green fingernail polish. He offered no comments to the crowd before taking his seat, but more than 300 fans had already packed the aisles of the store, poised with cameras of their own as well as copies of his children’s book, “Dennis the Wild Bull.”

Candice Purdom, who handles publicity for the store, said all copies were sold out well before the event.

“We ordered 250 copies and they were all sold, but we understand Dennis will be bringing a few extra along,” Purdom said. “People have been calling us all morning asking to buy them, and fans began living up two hours before the event.”

One of the earliest to arrive was Gloria Fernandez of Plainfield, who came with her 7-year-old son Ethan and 6-year-old daughter Emelie. Fernandez said she arrived at 11:30 Saturday morning and proclaimed herself “a big fan.”

“We’re really here more because of me, and when I posted on Facebook this morning that I was coming, people couldn’t believe Dennis Rodman wrote a children’s book,” Fernandez said. “I personally think this could inspire kids and help them see that it’s OK to be different as long as the message is expressed in a positive way. As they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

“Dennis the Wild Bull” was written by Rodman with Dustin Warburton, who reached out to illustrator Dan Monroe, who was also on hand Saturday. Monroe said he was asked if he’d be interested in working with Rodman and that he immediately jumped at the opportunity. Monroe said there are many facets to Rodman’s character many don’t know.

“He’s definitely a creative person and despite the way he comes across with his hair and the way he dresses, he can be very down to earth,” Monroe said. “Like any artist, he may have a flamboyant attitude, but I see this as just part of his persona. He’s not trying to be a maverick. It’s just who he is.”

Jonathan Pierson, who said he grew up in Naperville, came from his current home in Rolling Meadows and admitted that he found Rodman becoming a children’s author “to be a little weird.”

“I love the energy he brought to games and he certainly played a big role in the years the Bulls won,” Pierson said. “I did look at the book, and think that the message will resonate with kids.”

One of those who seemed to travel the farthest Saturday was Jeff Dewey of Freeport, whose fandom for the Bulls in general seemed to trump any other reason for coming.

“I’m a huge Bulls’ fan and I respect him for what he did, and he added a lot of flair,” Dewey said about Rodman. “The guy was a defensive phenomenon who would get in there and throw elbows and liked the game as it was then. I’m not sure why he chose to write a book. Maybe he was looking for an additional income route. But in the end, everybody loves kids when you get right down to it.”

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