Dennis Rodman was one of the most polarising athletes of the '90s, with the Chicago Bulls' rebounding machine a force off the court, just as much as he was on it.
The Last Dance documentary, which chronicles the 1997/98 Bulls season, on their way to completing their second three-peat, gives fans an inside look at how Michael Jordan rallied his team to success, with Episode 3 focused on Rodman's exploits.
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With Scottie Pippen sidelined for the first 35 games of the season after delaying foot surgery, Rodman was elevated to Jordan's no.2 guy, excelling in his new, but temporary role as the Bulls got their season back on track after a slow start.
"When Scottie wasn't there, Dennis loved the fact that Michael needed him," The Jordan Rules author Sam Smith recounts in The Last Dance.
However, after Pippen returned from injury and rejoined the Bulls lineup in January 1998, the normal order was restored with Pippen as Jordan's sidekick, leaving Rodman physically and emotionally drained and in much need of a break.
"He was 'hey Michael, it's me and you, we got this' and then when Scottie came back, that's when they lost him," Smith continued.
Jordan heaped praise on Rodman's ability to elevate his game, but keeping him in line for that stretch had its price. "When Scottie was out, Dennis was a model citizen, to a point where it was driving him [expletive] insane," Jordan said in The Last Dance.
Rodman convinced Bulls head coach Phil Jackson that he needed a vacation, settling on 48 hours in Las Vegas to "let loose", with the team stipulating he return in a couple days and pick up where they left off.
But Jordan wasn't convinced.
"Phil, you let this dude go to vacation, we not gonna see him, Jordan quipped. "You let him go to Vegas, we definitely not gonna see him."
.....and Rodman never returned.
"He did not come back on time," Jordan recounted.
Upon returning from Vegas, Rodman was greeted by Jordan himself who visited to end the short-lived vacation. "We had to go get his ass out of bed, and I'm not going to say what's in his bed, where he was, blah, blah, blah."
"MICHAEEEEL JORDANNN!!!!" @ESPN gives us the gift of the G.O.A.T with #TheLastDance premiere winning big with fans. @tjholmes has more. 🏀 pic.twitter.com/Imha81l3Ih- Good Morning America (@GMA) April 20, 2020
On an aftershow on ESPN, The Last Dance director Jason Hehir clarified that Rodman returned to Chicago and it was there that Jordan paid Rodman a visit to personally bring him back to the team.
"Dennis was bizarre, but I think what made it work was Phil and Michael's understanding that to get the most out of him on the court, you had to give him some rope....and they gave him a lot of rope, Steve Kerr added.
"Dennis came back and joined the team and that's the way it went that year," Phil Jackson concluded
The Last Dance 10-part documentary continues with episodes 3 & 4 on Monday, April 27 on Netflix, with two episodes to air every week following.
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