Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman had a tremendously emotional moment Monday evening when NBC Tonight Show host Jay Leno brought up the death of Los Angeles Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss.
Fighting back tears, Rodman said, "Like a Dad. I never had a Dad."
Midway through their interview, Leno brought up the subject of Buss’s death, and Rodman responded, “He was just like my Dad. Damn man, it’s like, wow.”
And then he choked up unable to speak.
“You alright?” Leno asked as he reached out to Rodman.
“No,” Rodman answered as Leno brought out tissues. “I didn’t want to bring this up, you know how it is.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Leno said.
As Rodman continued to fight for words and compose himself, Leno said, “He was an important guy to you.”
"Like a Dad," Rodman said still trying to keep it together. “I never had a Dad, so what the hell. It’s just awesome, man.”
With that, the audience applauded, and Leno said, “I think that’s nice."
From there, Leno lightened things up by asking about how poorly the Lakers are doing.
“It’s a different era,” Rodman replied. “Colby has done his job. He’s a great guy. His kids play with my kids. My daughter’s here, and guess what, I’m so blessed the fact that she’s here, and the fact that.”
With that, he choked up again, and clapped for his daughter in the audience before pointing to her.
After a brief discussion about Michael Jordan turning 50, Rodman mentioned that Leno and the people involved with the Tonight Show are like family to him. Pointing at Leno, Rodman said, “I love this guy. I love him to hell.”
“We go way back,” replied Leno. “We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve been through all the Dennis Rodmans up and down. All the different Dennis Rodmans have been here. The crazy Dennis, the unbelievable basketball player Dennis, the wild, we’ve been through all the things, and that’s why we care about you.”
A humble Rodman simply said, “Thank you, Jay.”
For those that were unaware, Rodman's real father - appropriately named "Philander" - was an Air Force pilot and Vietnam War veteran who left his family for the Philippines when Dennis was very young.
Affectionately known as “The Worm,” Rodman - who claimed during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech to have 46 brothers and sisters - spent the first part of his NBA career with the Detroit Pistons where he won two championship rings.
After a brief stint with the San Antonio Spurs, Rodman ended up with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls winning another three titles before finishing his career with Buss's Lakers.