The 1990s’ Chicago Bulls are widely regarded as one of the best dynasties in the history of the NBA. And with sound reasoning. Six championships, two three-peats, and some of the most memorable runs the league has ever seen. Especially the second time around, when the notorious duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen got joined by Dennis Rodman.
Contrast of styles
MJ and Pippen were the epitome of professionalism, hard work, and winning, making the Bulls a powerhouse organization. On the other side, Rodman was a wild card you could not control. So how could this partnership work? Well, maybe off the court, it wasn’t the best match, but between the lines, the trio worked together perfectly.
Rodman was the ideal glue guy, doing all the dirty work, rebounding, defending, and provoking whoever was necessary, while Jordan, Pippen, and the co took care of the business. That led to the 72-10 season and three championships before eventually splitting up in the 1998/1999 season.
Rodman’s unique career path
Many fans primarily think of Rodman on the Bulls, but “The Worm” was actually a crucial part of two historically significant teams. The start of Dennis’s career in Detroit was a completely different story. A quiet and hard-working kid, leaving it all on the court and fitting in perfectly to the “Bad Boys” image. Even though he was tough on the court, Rodman was the polar opposite off it. Mostly thanks to his coach and mentor, Chuck Daly.
But after leaving Detroit, Rodman would go through a challenging life period, struggling to find his place in the league and battling personal demons. That almost ended Rodman’s career and life, but a call from Phil Jackson changed everything. Phil saw through the eccentric personality and predicted Rodman could be a true X-Factor for the Bulls returning to glory.
In a recent interview with GQ, Rodman revealed some interesting details about his career and life. A particular piece of his arrival to the Bulls is super interesting, as we got to learn some details about who the Bulls tried to get before Rodman, the partnership between the two, and how they made it work:
“After two seasons in San Antonio, Dennis was traded, in 1995, to the Chicago Bulls, who were in need of a rebounder. Phil Jackson admits that Rodman wasn’t exactly a front–runner for the role. “I think Derrick Coleman was the first on the list that I had,” says Jackson. (And Dennis? “He was down at the bottom of the list.”) The franchise understood that in order to get the full value of Dennis Rodman on the court, they had to let him be who he was off of it. The team hired a retired police officer to be by his side at all times and made sure he attended sessions with the team psychologist, which was somewhat of a rarity in the 1990s. Like Daly, Jackson became something of a father figure, and he didn’t sweat the stuff that had made Dennis’s tenure with the Spurs so tumultuous. Dennis was late to practice all the time, missed shootarounds and game film sessions. But Jackson was lenient. He trusted Dennis to work out every day and study film on his own time. Dennis didn’t do hard drugs, but he drank and partied every night, becoming a fixture of Chicago nightlife, and then showed up for every game (when he wasn’t suspended) to give the team everything he had. It worked for three championships.”GQ
Also, to add to it, Rodman simply described in his words what made those Bulls teams so special:
“You got the greatest basketball player on the planet,” says Dennis of Michael Jordan, “the second greatest in Scottie Pippen, and then you got the devil.”Dennis Rodman, GQ
Hey, that’s a pretty simple explanation, but a perfect one. Jordan was simply the best in the world, and everybody knew it. Pippen was that ideal complementary player, doing everything on the court and filling the holes Jordan couldn’t fill. And to cap it all off, you had the “devil” in Dennis Rodman, doing all the dirty work crucial for teams to win basketball games. Indeed a simple recipe to building and assembling a great basketball team, but yet so hard to achieve. After all, that is the beauty of the game.