|Dennis Rodman stretches before the start of the All Star Basketball Challenge against PBA legends at the MOA Arena in Pasay City. Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines - Philander Rodman, the estranged father of National Basketball Association Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman, was near tears when his son acknowledged him in front of thousands of Filipino basketball fans at the SM Mall of Asia Arena Wednesday night.
Philander watched as his son, whom he last saw in 2006, played with other former NBA players against a selection of former PBA stars. The USA All-Stars ended up winning 112-93.
The younger Rodman, a five-time NBA champion, thrilled the crowd with a couple of long jumpers in the third period, but it was his speech with 16 seconds to go in the game that drew the louder ovation.
"It's an honor to be here in the Philippines," said Rodman, who inducted in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame last year. "I've been here a couple of times before."
|Philander Rodman, the father of NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman, watches the exhibition game between the USA All-Stars and the Philippine All-Stars at the Mall of Asia Arena. Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNNews.com
"I haven't seen my father for what, 42 years? But here's my dad, and there he is right now," Rodman said, pointing to the stands where Philander sat.
Later, Philander admitted that he "wanted to cry" when Dennis acknowledged him.
"He accepted me as his father. That's the first time he ever called me his father," Philander told reporters after the game. "I really don't know what I'm gonna say."
Philander hopes he can talk to his son so they can sort out their differences. The elder Rodman left Dennis when he was only five years old and now has a new family in the Philippines.
"I love my son. I just want to talk to him, about all the wrong things he said about me, talk to him so we can get this fixed," he said.
Philander was invited by a TV station to watch the game, but he admitted that he was initially hesitant to attend.
"They asked me first, do you wanna go see Dennis? I said I'm tired of going and chasing after Dennis, ending up being disappointed," he said, noting that when Dennis last came to the Philippines in 2006, he did not acknowledge his father.
"But he said in an interview today that he would like for me to come to the game and shake my hand. That's why I came," Philander added.
Philander said he would have wanted to come down to the court and hug his son, but decided not to.
"In the States, you can't do that. You get arrested for that," he said.
The elder Rodman proudly wore a red cap with the words: "Yes, Dennis Rodman is my 'son.'" He also brought with him several pages of the books that he has been working on, many of which have something to do with Dennis. Philander is currently looking for a publisher for his books, which explain his side of the story.
In Tuesday's press conference, Dennis said that he hopes his father "wants to come to the game and shake my hand, and hopefully everything will be cool."
Rodman also said that he does not "hate the guy who brought me into this world."
"I don't hate him. I'll just tell him that you are a friend of mine, I don't hate anybody in the world," he said.
As recently as last year, Rodman was still angry with his father, saying in his Hall of Fame speech that he "never had a father."
"My father left me when I was five years old. He has 47 kids in the Philippines," he said.
Philander said he never abandoned his family, however, even producing a document that showed he supported Dennis.
Dennis stayed on the court to sign autographs and take pictures a few minutes after the game ended, but his father did not get the chance to talk to him.
Philander is now based in Angeles City, where he lives with his Filipina wife, Helen. He owns a small bar called Rodman's Rainbow Obama Burger, where he serves handburgers in buns that are colored yellow, red, and green - a tribute to his son, who is known for is colorful hairstyle during his playing days.