Ex-NBA star expected to make ABA debut next week

Updated: January 10, 2004, 11:21 PM ET
Associated Press

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Dennis Rodman practiced with the Long Beach Jam for the first time Saturday and is expected to make his debut for the American Basketball Association team Friday.

The 42-year-old Rodman signed with Long Beach on Dec. 19, but said he did not practice with the team until Saturday because he was rehabilitating an injured knee.

``I didn't want to come here and try to go full out and bust my knee out again,'' said Rodman, who estimated that he is at 75 percent efficiency and will be at 100 percent in a week to 10 days.

``We're going to take it slow,'' coach Earl Cureton said. ``I'm not looking for him to be a major contributor right away.''

Rodman led the NBA in rebounding for seven consecutive seasons and helped the Detroit Pistons win two championships and the Chicago Bulls win three, but also developed a reputation for bizarre behavior, both on and off the court.

Cureton said he does not expect any problems from Rodman, who impressed team officials at the practice by helping teach his teammates as they ran plays.

``Dennis made a decision to come out here and do this for $850 a week,'' said Cureton, who played 13 seasons in the NBA. ``Evidently, it's something he wants to do. If he doesn't come and show up and he doesn't do anything, that can only affect him. If he's making a move to try to get back to the next level, I don't foresee him doing those kinds of things.''

Rodman said he has been sober for three months.

``That has nothing to do with me coming back,'' Rodman said. ``I had to slow down for my kids. I have four beautiful kids and I think they need a father to look after them because the way I was going was way out of control.''

Rodman has not played competitively since being released March 8, 2000, after a 12-game stint with the Dallas Mavericks.

He's expected to play for the first time Friday night against the Fresno HeatWave in Long Beach.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press