|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2011||[Print without images]|
CHICAGO -- Dennis Rodman returned to the United Center on Wednesday to present the game ball before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.
"This is the second time I've been here in 14 years," said Rodman, who attended the ceremony to retire Scottie Pippen's number. "It brings back some memories, but it's not for me now, it's for those guys out there."
It's no surprise that the one guy on the current team that Rodman most admires is Joakim Noah, who also is considered a free spirit.
"I love the team," Rodman said. "I love Noah. He runs around with his head cut off sometimes, but I love him.
"He's more like me, but a little taller. ... He plays for the game. I love [Derrick] Rose, he plays for the game. And Tom Thibodeau has put a great team together, a great nucleus because he's very defensive oriented, and he has these guys believing they have to play defense first. I can see this series going five or six, but Chicago should win it."
Rodman, who won three NBA titles with the Bulls from 1995-99, headlines the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's 2011 class, which also includes former Bulls assistant coach Tex Winter.
Wednesday's appearance at the United Center was the latest honor for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and five-time NBA champion. The Detroit Pistons, the first of five NBA teams he played for, retired Rodman's No. 10 jersey during a game against the Bulls earlier this season.
Former Bulls teammate and TNT analyst Steve Kerr expected Rodman to be emotional in his return to Chicago.
"It will be awesome. He is going to love it," Kerr said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "This means so much to him. So for him to come back in front of these fans who are obviously incredibly hyped, it's going to be emotional. It wouldn't surprise me if he shed a few tears tonight."
Rodman choked up just talking about it beforehand.
"I don't know, man. Hard for me to even talk right now," he said. "I'm surprised this is even happening right now. Just imagining me going to the Hall of Fame and coming back here [if they retire his number]. That's hard man. I can hardly talk."