Clinton: Rodman should set example for youth

Associated Press

Rodman vows to play some games for free


President Clinton sounds off on Dennis Rodman. (Courtesy WBIS+31)
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Phil Jackson says Rodman is nearing the end of his rope.
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NEW YORK -- President Clinton says he's a "big Dennis Rodman fan," but the Chicago Bulls star should admit what he did was wrong.

Rodman kicked a courtside cameraman last week, and Clinton said he worries when famous athletes act destructively.

"There are an awful lot of young people out there, particularly your boys and young men, who don't have immediate positive male role models who can contradict a lapse by an athlete," Clinton told New York's WBIS-TV in an interview broadcast Thursday.

Dennis Rodman
"I'm sure in his heart of hearts he regrets doing that, but I would hope that at some point in addition to paying this enormous fine, and also trying to pay the gentleman he kicked ... that he'll find a way to say, 'I shouldn't have done it and I really regret it.'"

If Rodman admitted wrongdoing, it would sent a good message to young people, Clinton said.

"There's lots of kids out there like that -- real smart, real able, a little bit different -- and they've got to be fascinated by him, so I hope he'll find a way to say that. ... He might be able to help some young people if he just says, 'That's something I shouldn't have done. I'm not going to do that any more,''' Clinton said.

"I think it will only make him bigger, and it will make his fans think more of him. It will send a who-knows-what signal to some young person out there who, like Dennis Rodman, has enormous abilities and terrific imagination and a little bit different from the run-of-the-mill person and therefore really identifies with Dennis Rodman.

Rodman told ABC's "Primetime Live" in an interview aired Wednesday night that his kick of a cameraman in Minnesota was only a "tap.''

"I apologized,'' said the Chicago Bulls forward, who has agreed to pay cameraman Eugene Amos $200,000. "But most people in the world would say he's acting.''

No charges have been filed against Rodman.

Bulls coach Phil Jackson, in an excerpt aired by Chicago's WLS-TV but not included in the show, said Rodman "has four fouls and two strikes against him. I don't think he has any more strikes.''

In the interview taped Tuesday night in Newport Beach, Calif., Rodman criticized NBA commissioner David Stern for requiring him to undergo counseling and then explain why he should be reinstated.

"Don't treat me like a kid. I'm not a kid and you're not my father,'' said Rodman, suspended for 11 games without pay. "Everything I've done is really minor. People have blown it up real big.''

Asked if his behavior was good for his bad-boy image and helped him land endorsements, book deals and television shows, Rodman said: "Yeah, it's good for everything. I don't get paid $9 million to go out there and look good. It's entertainment.''

Rodman said he doesn't need counseling but will undergo it if that's what the league wants.

"I'll be back stronger than ever,'' he vowed.

In addition to the suspension, the NBA fined Rodman $25,000. The suspension is the second-longest in NBA history and also will cost Rodman more than $1.1 million in lost salary and incentives.

The Bulls suspended Rodman for two games earlier this season for swearing during a live postgame TV interview. Last season, he was suspended by the league for six games after head-butting referee Ted Bernhardt.

He also was frequently suspended while a member of the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons for missing practices, head-butting players or other incidents.

Rodman was fighting for a rebound in Minneapolis when he stumbled out of bounds and fell on top of a photographer seated next to Amos, an in-house cameraman working on a freelance basis just off the playing court at the Target Center.

Amos turned his camera on Rodman, who responded by kicking Amos high on the inside of his left thigh. Amos was attended to at courtside for several minutes before he was carried off on a stretcher and treated briefly at a hospital.

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