The Truth About Dennis Rodman's Famous Nickname

Celebrities come in every shape, size and personality, and by all those metrics, Dennis Rodman ranks among the stranger ones. He pops up everywhere, from professional wrestling, to movies, and even to North Korea, where he has baffled the world by hanging out with Kim Jong-Un. Rodman's collection of piercings, colorful hair and ... inspired fashion choices, as well as the general vibe that he's willing to do just about anything (see: hanging out with Kim Jong-Un), may make him seem like one of those celebrities who have tried to cling to the limelight for so long, their entire personality is a big neon sign that screams "look at me." However, as Chris Houston of Bleacher Report is happy to remind us, Rodman is also very much the Real Deal: A basketball virtuoso whose amazing rebound game and defense skills made him so good, Houston feels he might be the most underappreciated player in NBA history. 

One of the most baffling things in the giant, man-shaped box of baffle that is Dennis Rodman is his famous nickname, "The Worm," which is so deeply associated with him that Encyclopedia Britannica notes it. How exactly did a gigantic, muscular athlete end up with a moniker that silly? 

'The Worm' refers to Dennis Rodman's peculiar playing style

"The Worm" might sound like a nickname invented by someone who really, really didn't like Dennis Rodman. However, it's actually an old name that has followed Rodman around for quite some time, and refers to his peculiar, enthusiastic style of playing ... pinball? 

Yeah, it turns out Rodman's famous nickname has nothing to do with his basketball career, or his occasionally murky real-life story. As both Sam Smith of and Chris Baker of the Los Angeles Times attest, the Worm name stems from the way Rodman tends to turn, twist, and wiggle about when playing pinball machines. ESPN Honolulu notes that Rodman has been carrying the nickname quite a while, seeing as his mother gave it to him when he was young. Presumably, young Dennis rather liked the name, seeing as it followed him around throughout his professional basketball career, and he didn't mind telling its origins to journalists. One might be tempted to ask why Rodman is so comfortable with such an unsavory nickname, but let's be fair — it's unlikely that this would even crack the Top 100 most eccentric things about him.