Michael Jordan is widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, and the 1996 Chicago Bulls that MJ led to the 72-10 season capped off their fourth championship in five years is the hands-down greatest team of all time. Still, the most extraordinary story of the Bulls’ dominance in the 90s belongs to Dennis Rodman.
Thanks to a partnership between ESPN Films and Netflix, the Covid-19 pandemic became a lot more bearable with the release of The Last Dance, a documentary about the Chicago Bulls’ historic run in the 1990s. The docuseries gave basketball fans a behind-the-scenes look into some of the most dominant basketball teams to ever be assembled, shining a light on how Michael Jordan and the rest of his crew dominated NBA basketball during His Airness’ prime. Despite Jordan’s borderline mythological storyline, the most intriguing storyline to come out of the documentary is arguably that of one Dennis Rodman, the misunderstood rebounding machine that became the final puzzle piece en route to the Bulls’ second three-peat in the 1990s.
Rodman was unlike any other with his uncanny nose for the ball and seemingly unlimited energy. No one could rebound and defend with the same enthusiasm and heart as Rodman did, and that worked wonders for the Bulls, who already had two of the best perimeter defenders in the league, in Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Apparently, it was not only Dennis’ ability on the court that was uncanny, but the documentary disclosed how Rodman also had a unique way of refocusing his energy to basketball once things got too hectic.
“I need to go to Vegas, i’ll be back in two days. I just need to get my head straight.”Dennis Rodman, via Episode 3, The Last Dance.
In episode three of the documentary series, Dennis Rodman asks Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson for permission to take a 48-hour trip to Las Vegas to get his mind off things. While most people take a trip to the beach and try to disconnect from a hectic and overly busy lifestyle, Dennis preferred to go to a party up in Vegas, even in the middle of the season.
Rodman guested on the Fullsend Podcast and was asked regarding his trips to Las Vegas, and his answer made it clear that The Last Dance only scratched the surface of Rodman’s deep love for the Nevada party scene. According to Dennis, what seemed to be a surprising request to Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson based on the film was a regular occurrence during his time in the NBA.
“I would go to Vegas about 20-25 times a year.”Dennis Rodman, via The Full send Podcast
These are the best athletes globally, and part of what makes them so great is their unique routines and mentality. Rodman needed to go out and party to unwind because that is what helped him relax. Normally this would not sit well with coaches and teammates in the NBA, but Phil Jackson knew how special Dennis was and would therefore deal with him accordingly to get the best version of Dennis out on the court as often as possible. The dynamic between Phil and Dennis is a testament to Phil’s genius as a coach, but if you look at how Rodman balanced all of this and still delivered for a championship team, one cannot help but be impressed.