Skip to main content

“I've got Phil Jackson calling me" — When Hulk Hogan tried to convince Dennis Rodman to go back to the NBA Finals

Dennis Rodman infamously flew out to a WCW show after Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

In the middle of the 1998 NBA Finals, Dennis Rodman just decided to become a professional wrestler. This caused headaches for the Chicago Bulls, especially for head coach Phil Jackson. Professional wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, Rodman’s close confidant, shared the tumultuous circumstances on that fateful day when the Zen Master continuously nagged him.

The Last Dance

In Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals, the Bulls humiliated the Jazz, 96-54, to take a 2-1 lead. Rodman snagged six rebounds in 22 minutes — a subpar performance based on his standards. After a poor showing, your average player would grin, bear it, and move on to the next game. But Rodman isn’t your ordinary player. And his way of coping was to fulfill his other dream: to become a professional wrestler, even for just one night.

Obviously, this little plan did not sit well with the Zen Master. He called the 1997-98 season “The Last Dance” because it might be the team’s last hurrah together. And so Jackson, who was used to Rodman’s antics, confronted him head-on. Or at least he tried. Jackson contacted Hulk Hogan, who then begged Rodman to follow his coach’s orders.

I’ve got Phil Jackson calling me, going, ‘Where’s my guy at, where’s my guy at?’” recalled Hulk Hogan in a WWE Chronicle documentary on Rodman produced for the WWE Network. “I’m going, ‘Rodman, Phil Jackson keeps blowing up my phone, you gotta go back, [and Rodman] says, ‘I don’t wanna go back,’” per ESPN.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

It’s been etched in history that Rodman was absent from the Bulls practice for Game 4. It’s also in the record books that the Bulls won Game 4 and took a 3-1 lead. Rodman also snagged 14 rebounds in 29 minutes.

Setting the pieces

Then WCW president Eric Bischoff didn’t give a damn about how Rodman’s absence affected the Bulls and their title quest. His concern was how he could dovetail Rodman’s appearance into something bigger.

I couldn’t talk to Dennis and Karl [Malone] about doing anything during play that would help promote WCW,” said WCW president Eric Bischoff in the same WWE Network documentary. “But someone may have said, ‘Hey guys, if you get an opportunity during stoppage to have any kind of animated conversation between you two, that would only help,’” Bischoff said.

Bishoff’s scheme came into fruition just a month after the NBA Finals. Dennis Rodman came back. This time, it wasn’t just a small cameo. The Worm put his tights and wrestling boots on and actually wrestled. He teamed up with Hulk Hogan as they fought a tag team duel with Karl Malone and Diamond Dallas Page. From getting physical on the basketball court, Malone and Rodman threw clotheslines at one another inside the squared circle.

Doc Rivers outlines his expectations for James Harden this season

Doc Rivers expects James Harden to play like a "scoring Magic Johnson” this season

Rivers said he wants Harden to play like a scoring Magic Johnson this season and attempt to focus on being both a facilitator and a scorer for the 76ers this season

Skip Bayless on the 2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers and Darvin Ham

Skip Bayless makes a bold prediction about the Los Angeles Lakers and Darvin Ham -"Darvin Ham is a slam dunk to win Coach of the Year”

Bayless believes that if the Lakers win more than 50 games this upcoming season, that means that Darvin Ham would deserve to win Coach of the Year

Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom with Kobe Bryant

Lamar Odom reveals Kobe Bryant came to him in his dreams: "The afterlife ain’t what people make it up to be"

Odom has such a strong tie to his Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant that he talks to him in his dreams


“F**k Dr. J, you be Shaq.” - Shaquille O’Neal recollected how his father encouraged him to create his own identity

Shaquille O'Neal's father Phillip Harrison played a major role in shaping his basketball career.

Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson reflects on his college and NBA career while also sharing what Zion Williamson needs to do be dominant in the NBA: "I think Zion needs to dunk more"

We interviewed Larry Johnson and talked about his college and NBA career while Larry also shared what Zion Williamson needs to do to be dominant in the league and why Kawhi Leonard is currently his favorite player in the NBA

Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Doncic

“I was so nervous, I couldn’t even talk” — Luka Doncic recalled the time he met Cristiano Ronaldo

There was one thing Luka wanted to ask, but was too nervous to pull the trigger on his request.

Paul Westhead and Spencer Haywood

"I drove through the streets plotting the man's murder" — When former Los Angeles Lakers forward Spencer Haywood almost killed head coach Paul Westhead

Hall of Fame legend Spencer Haywood talks us through the night he plotted to kill his head coach Paul Westhead.