There are no out male athletes in any of the four major American sporting leagues — but according to Dennis Rodman, perception is not reality.
The former NBA star, now 58, told Business Insider that up to 20 percent of professional athletes may be gay.
"I wouldn't be surprised, literally, I've said it all along, if 10 percent or 20 percent of people in the NBA, or any sports, [are] gay," Rodman said. "I wouldn't be surprised. It wouldn't shock me at all. I think today, it wouldn't shock anyone. I think that'd be more acceptable now than anything."
Rodman is currently promoting his new ESPN documentary, Rodman: For Better or Worse, which is part of the channel's 30-for-30 television series exploring 30 years of sports history. The production, directed by Todd Kapostasy, covers Rodman's relationship with the LGBTQ community that opened up after the athlete appeared on a 1995 cover of Sports Illustrated in a woman's bathing suit and had a frank conversation about sexuality.
The basketball player does not identify as gay, but he has been long renowned for his flamboyant style, which includes artificial hair color and gender-nonconforming attire.
"They didn't know the fact that when [they] shot that cover for the Sports Illustrated that that was the best-selling Sports Illustrated ever," Rodman said. "And then the gay community started to reach out to me and said, 'Wow, we never knew that our community can be represented like that in sports.' And people didn't know at the time that I was doing that."
"I was, you know, doing all the drag clubs, I was dressing in drag. I was dressing in women's clothes, I was doing lingerie and stuff like that and people in the gay community started embracing me," he added. " If you're gay, I didn't give a damn."
In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Rodman also discussed the locker-room behavior of players — gay and straight. "I don’t know any man on this planet — any man on this planet — that don’t go in the shower and look at another man. I don’t know any man that don’t do that. Gay or not gay, I don’t care who you are — a man is going to look at another man. I don’t give a damn how you look at it. He’s not gay, though, but you got that pride and that image."
Rodman also encouraged athletes to come out in his discussion with AP, in which he estimated "there’s probably more bisexual than gay in sports."
"I’m sorry, guys, to expose everybody," he said. "I wish all of them would come out. It’s acceptable today. Just come out, man. Have a good time. Enjoy yourself."
Watch the trailer for Rodman: For Better or Worse, which aired Tuesday on ESPN, below.