The third and fourth episodes of “The Last Dance” dove deeper into the characters that made up the legendary Bulls dynasty of the ’90s. After being introduced to the backgrounds of the stars, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, last weekend, producers took an in-depth look at forward Dennis Rodman and coach Phil Jackson.
Rodman and Jackson are two of the most distinctive personalities in NBA history, and their appearances in Sunday’s showing did not disappoint.
Here are the big takeaways from episodes three and four:
1. Dennis Rodman and Las Vegas were made for each other
Rodman captivated the audience from the jump on Sunday night. He spoke about rebounding so engagingly it was like he was giving a Ted Talk titled “The art of procuring missed shots.”
Within the first few minutes, he gave the first of many incredible quotes from episodes three and four.
“I want to go out there and get my nose broke,” Rodman said. “I want to go out there and get cut. I want to do something that will bring out the hurt, bring out the pain. I want to feel that.”
His soliloquies of rebounding and broken noses were entertaining but mundane in comparison to his midseason “48-hour vacation” to Las Vegas.
Pippen missed the first 35 games of the 1997-98 season while recovering from offseason surgery. When Pippen was out, Jordan described Rodman as a “model citizen to the point where it was driving him f—ing insane.” Rodman said he needed a vacation, and Jordan, Jackson and Rodman decided 48 hours in Vegas would suffice. The documentary showed Rodman drinking and partying. Social media loved it.
“It was definitely an occupational hazard to be Dennis’s girlfriend,” said Carmen Electra, who was dating Rodman and with him at the time in Las Vegas.
MJ ended up flying to Vegas after Rodman turned his break into a hiatus. Jordan said he got Rodman’s “a— out of bed” and brought him back to Chicago.
2. MJ was not a fan of Phil Jackson and the triangle offense at first
Jackson was brought in as an assistant under Doug Collins in 1987. Another assistant coach, Tex Winter, wanted Collins to implement the triangle offense, but Collins refused and removed Winter from the bench during games. Winter had sold Jackson on the offense focused on ball movement.
GM Jerry Krause replaced Collins, who was the coach when Jordan averaged 37.1 points per game in his third NBA season, with Jackson — and Jordan wasn’t happy. Collins’ offense was putting the ball in MJ’s hands (“Get the ball to Michael, everybody else get the fuck out of the way” was an actual late-game play call).
Jordan wanted the ball in his hands, instead of alternatives: “I didn’t want Bill Cartwright to have the ball with five seconds left,” Jordan said.
Aside from his offensive system, Jackson had utilized teachings with Buddhist and Native American origins. He also did acid in Los Angeles when he was younger and thought he was a lion, according to his friend, Charles Rosen.
Jordan came around quickly, especially when he saw how it unlocked Pippen’s ability. (Scoring 69 points that season and winning MVP the next year helped ease some worries too.)
3. The Bad Boy Pistons might have created the GOAT
The Jordan Rules, where the Pistons physically harassed Jordan with double and triple teams, motivated MJ to gain 15 pounds that offseason. Detroit had beaten Chicago three straight seasons in the playoffs, and Jordan was sick of it. He was dominant at his size, but said he didn’t have the energy to succeed with the Piston’s physical defense taking such a toll on him.
The Jordan Rules were explained by assistant coach Brendan Malone as such:
- “On the wings, we’re going to push him to the elbow. And we’re not going to let him drive to the baseline.
- “When he’s on top, we’re going to influence him to his left.”
- “When he got the ball in the low post, we’re going to trap him from the top.”
Rodman’s viewpoint of the Jordan Rules: “Chuck Daly said this is the Jordan Rule: Every time he go to the f—ing basket, put him on the ground. When he goes to the basket, he ain’t gonna dunk. We’re gonna hit you and you’re gonna be on the ground. We were trying to physically hurt Michael.”
The Bulls finally beat the Pistons in 1991 and the rest, as they say, is history.