“The Last Dance” unveils Dennis Rodman’s hectic life


John Lee/Chicago Tribune from Tribune News subscription

With fans reaching for a touch, Michael Jordan steps into the spotlight as he’s introduced for the Bulls’ 5th NBA Championships ring ceremony on Nov. 1, 1997, at the United Center.

Monika Jurevicius, Sports Editor

As last week’s episodes of the “Last Dance” left us with the background information of the series, this week leads to the rivalry between the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons. The Pistons, known as one of the most aggressive teams in the history of the NBA, lead the episodes into the mystery of what went on behind the cameras of both teams. Most importantly, the hiatus and struggles of NBA star, Dennis Rodman.

“If you take me away from this team, will there be a championship,” Rodman questions.

Rodman’s reputation was certainly far from what Michael Jordan had created for himself. He was known to be spontaneous, hostile, and short-tempered. In the 1986 NBA draft, Rodman was picked as the No. 27 pick for the Patriots. The Patriots’s main objective was to be the best and to take Jordan down.

“We knew how important it was for the NBA for Michael [Jordan] to get to the next level,” John Salley, who was a Patriots power forward or center, explains.

At game two of the East Final, Chuck Daly, the Patriots coach at the time, was upset about losing the game. Jordan managed to score the winning points at the end of the game, finalizing the score of 99-97. 

“You have to stop him before he takes flight because, you know, he [Jordan] is not human,” Salley said.

Rodman became known as one of the best rebounders at that time, which gave him the opportunity to sign with the Bulls in 1995. Rodman became an instant hit with the team.

“Dennis [Rodman] was one of the smartest guys I played with,” Jordan says.

Before Rodman was signed on to play with the Bulls, he went missing due to him being in a “lost place” mentally in 1993. When he came back, he was traded to play with the San Antonio Spurs, started dating other celebrities, and acting out much more. Once Rodman was with the Bulls, he did the same thing when Phil Jackson, the Bulls head coach, told him to take a 48 hour vacation. He came back later than ever expected. Jordan had to physically head to Las Vegas, where Rodman was staying, to get him back on the court. 

“He had different needs that he had in his personal life than we did,” Steve Kerr, former Bulls point guard, said. 

Episode four goes back and forth between the seasons of Rodman playing with the Pistons and then the Bulls. On March 28, 1990, Jackson started his coaching career with the Bulls, Scottie Pippen blossoming as a forward, and Jordan losing the spotlight at practice.

“I’m not worried about you, we just have to make everyone else better,” Jackson says to Jordan.

To prepare for the 1990-1991 East Conference games and NBA Championships, the team started to lift weights and workout after every game. In the games of the conference, the Pistons and the Bulls went against each other, and had a very strained relationship.

“Everybody in Chicago hated the Pistons,” Michael Winston, a reporter at the Washington Post, said. “This was personal. I didn’t want to deal with my relatives in Detroit. I didn’t want to stay with them.”

At the game, Rodman pushed Pippen so hard that he was almost injured. However, Pippen did not react, which shocked the Pistons. The last minute of the game was personal. The Pistons left the court and did not shake the Bulls hands when they won the NBA championships. 

“We shook their hands when they beat us. There was a certain respect that we paid to them,” Jordan responds to what the Pistons did at the 1991 championships. 

New episodes of “The Last Dance” are released every Sunday night on the ESPN app, ESPN channel, or ESPN.com.