During his in-depth interview with TalkBasket.net, former Chicago Bulls forward Jason Caffey referred to Dennis Rodman and one of the incidents mentioned in an episode of the “Last Dance” docuseries: the star’s near suicide attempt in 1993.
Before we go into what Caffey said about his Bulls’ teammate case, let’s make a flashback:
In September 2019, Rodman told Bleacher Report that in 1993 he felt “betrayed” by Detroit, since the Pistons dynasty had started to fall apart, having lost almost all of its protagonists. The Hall of Famer talked about his emotions and the events leading up to his decision to nearly pull the trigger.
“I wrote a note and went to the parking lot of the Palace. I had a gun rack and a gun in my car. I had the gun in my lap and, next thing you know, I fell asleep listening to Pearl Jam. Then I woke up, and all the cops and everyone was there. I totally forgot I had a gun in my hand. They got me out of the car. It wasn’t about the game of basketball. It was about feeling betrayed, because I wanted to be loved so much in my life. And when I got to the NBA, I didn’t expect the NBA to be like that. I didn’t expect teams to just trade players and you say, “OK, this is a business”, and forget about it. That was what drove me to that point“.
Rodman went on to explain: “I wasn’t trying to get attention. I needed help at the time”.
Three years earlier, in 2016, the late NBA broadcaster Craig Sager recalled the incident in an interview with Sports Illustrated. Sager said he knew Rodman was contemplating suicide and essentially talked him out of it. In particular, he described how he followed him into a strip club to tell him how stupid his action would be. When Sager passed away in 2016, the “Worm” thanked the deceased reporter for saving his life. It should be noted that after his time in Detroit, where he won two NBA championships, Rodman continued his career with the San Antonio Spurs and later won another three titles with the Chicago Bulls from 1995 to 1998.
Now, let’s get back to the present. Taking all of the above into account, one would expect from Jason Caffey, who played alongside Rodman in Chicago from 1995 through February 1998 (when he got traded to the Golden State Warriors), to share some sinister stories about his ex-teammate. However, the 20th pick in the 1995 NBA draft and two-time NBA champion, gives a completely different perspective:
“I think Dennis was bullshitting. I don’t think he was really going to do it“, the 47-year-old told TalkBasket.net after the first four episodes of the “Last Dance” were aired.
Caffey strongly disagrees with Rodman’s and Sager’s version on what the retired player’s intentions really were. The Alabama native is a man who has struggled with mental illness himself, retiring from professional basketball at the age of 30 and dealing with a series of financial and personal problems that escalated after his time in Chicago. Thus, he has reason to believe that he knows a few things more about troubled athletes.
Caffey futher explained that -to his knowledge of Rodman’s character and also from personal experience with people who have committed suicide- his future teammate and friend would never reach a point of no return:
“It was more of an attention-seeking thing. People who really want to kill themselves don’t think about it; they do it. I say that because I know some people who have killed themselves, whether they would be pills or shot gun. I don’t think Dennis was so far out that he was ready to do that; at least, not the Dennis I know. We’re talking about one of the shyest, humblest guys you’d ever want to meet. I don’t think he had it in him to take his own life. I’m just being honest about that”, he said.
So, what was the story all about then? “I definitely feel like it was a cry for attention“, Caffey repeated. In addition, he laid out why he’s so skeptical about Rodman’s alleged self-destructive feelings. According to the player who averaged 7.3 points per game during the Bulls’ second consecutive championship run in 1996–97:
“The man I played with in the Chicago Bulls, who lived with so much spirit, so much life and joy … I don’t see him taking his life, especially after winning two championships with Detroit. And now that all of the sudden, that’s coming to an end … you want to show up in the parking lot with a gun? I just don’t buy in to that”.
Jason added that Rodman “never expressed disappointment or frustration. I never saw him depressed; if he was, I couldn’t tell by his actions. He is a great guy to be around and it was fun to hang out with him. We had nothing but good times together. Dennis seemed to love life while in Chicago. I never saw him depressed when I played with him”.
In terms of whether he thinks Sager’s account could be exaggerated or false, Caffey responded:
“I can’t say. Craig was a great guy and well-liked by the players. He was always fun to be around. I used to see him in Atlanta at his sports bar, “Jocks and Jills”. He always gave positive advice”.
One thing is for sure: “Craig was no liar”, the ex-Bull clarified. “However, was Dennis truly considering suicide? That’s the question that needs to be answered. I can’t answer it because I didn’t know him during his time in Detroit when all of this transpired. I’ve hung out with him and his crew on several occasions and in different cities. The time I spent around Dennis, he was fun, loving and in great mood”, Caffey remembered.
The two men seem to have maintained a long-standing friendship from 1995 to this day. Asked by TalkBasket if he keeps up with the NBA, Jason Caffey responded dropping the name of his former teammate: “Yes, I love watching games. I watched one with Dennis right before the coronavirus pandemic. The Houston Rockets were playing the Lakers”.
The last game between the two teams took place on February 6, 2020 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Here is an audio excerpt from Jason Caffey’s interview with TalkBasket.net, where the retired player is referring to Dennis Rodman: