Former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman perfected his role masterfully with rebounding, hustle and even good behavior. But once Scottie Pippen returned to the lineup after missing the first 35 games because of foot surgery, Rodman announced something that left the Bulls worried.
“I need a vacation,” Michael Jordan recalled Rodman saying.
So at least for a day, NBA hoops fans will be entertained. Sure, it’s frustrating that it’s Day 46 without sports because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. But “The Last Dance” documentary on the Bulls has given sports fans something to look forward to. Episode 3 of the documentary’s 10-part series should offer enough levity. The reason? The show will focus on Rodman (ESPN, 9 pm ET).
The intrigue will go beyond Rodman’s colored hair, body piercings and on-court intensity. The show will also detail Rodman’s off-court behavior, including when Rodman asked Bulls coach Phil Jackson if he could take a brief vacation in Las Vegas during the 1997-98 season.
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“Phil, you let this dude go on vacation, we’re not going to see him,” Jordan recalled saying. “You let him go to Vegas, we’re definitely not going to see him.”
If this sounds bizarre, well, it is. Rodman also skipped practice between Games 3 and 4 of the 1998 NBA Finals so he could attend a WCW wrestling match in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
The kicker: the Bulls allowed Rodman’s quirky behavior because it did not affect his on-court excellence. It only enhanced it.
“There was a real connection that existed that gave Dennis the freedom and space that he needed,” said Golden State Warriors coach and former Bulls guard Steve Kerr recently on a conference call. “It wasn’t a thing where we were all complaining of Dennis not making it to a practice. We sort of understood that he was his own man and he did so much for our team that we allowed him to have that freedom.”
Sports Video of the Day
Rodman’s antics aside, he became a Hall of Famer for an obvious reason. Rodman was the NBA’s best rebounder. He bullied his opponents with his strength. He crashed the boards with his hustle. He raced for loose balls with his quickness. The video below captures Rodman’s body of work perfectly.
On this day in sports
1905: The Chicago Cubs’ Jack McCarthy became the only major league player to throw out three runners at home plate in one game.
1912: The Boston Red Sox’s Hugh Bradley hit the first home run at Fenway Park
1964: The Boston Celtics won the NBA championship after beating the San Francisco Warriors in five games
What we’re watching
► “The Last Dance” documentary: Parts 3 and 4 on ESPN (9-11 p.m. ET)
► 2013, Seattle Mariners and Anaheim Angels (Mike Trout hits for the cycle). Noon ET & 10 p.m. ET, MLB Network
► Game 7 of 2015 first-round playoff matchup between San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers. Chris Paul banks in a game winner. 6 p.m. ET, NBA TV
Sports we’re missing
NBA and NHL playoffs
- Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles
- Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees
- Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays
- San Diego Padres at Detroit Tigers
- Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates
- Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
- Arizona Diamondbacks at Cincinnati Reds
- Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins
- Miami Marlins at St. Louis Cardinals
- Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs
- Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers
- Milwaukee Brewers at Colorado Rockies
- Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants
- Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Angels
- New York Mets at Atlanta Braves
- Chicago Fire FC v. Columbus Crew
- Philadelphia Union v. New York City FC
- Atlanta United v. Portland Timbers