From Dennis Rodman to some truly hated rivals, who were the main characters from the fresh episodes of the MJ doc The Last Dance?
The Last Dance pressed on on Sunday night, providing a source of entertainment and normalcy for sports fans everywhere.
Last week we saw main characters that set the tone for the following eight episodes, and this week the focal point was widened a bit more.
Episodes 3 and 4 focused on the Chicago Bulls and their failure to get past the Detroit Pistons in the 1989 NBA Playoffs following a huge shot from Michael Jordan in the first round to ruin the Cleveland Cavaliers’ hope for competing.
Simultaneously, we got a look into the mind of Dennis Rodman and the drama that came with it.
With that said, who were the three main characters of this week’s batch of episodes?
Dennis Rodman and his infamous vacation
Dennis Rodman was tasked to be more responsible than ever before during the 1997-98 NBA season. With Scottie Pippen out with injury and lingering trade demands due to his discontent with management, someone had to step up and be Michael Jordan’s right-hand man.
Rodman was the guy.
To his credit, Rodman did a great job. Jordan and Phil Jackson were highly complimentary of the role he played for the Bulls when Pippen was out.
Pippen eventually, despite saying he would never suit up for the Bulls again, returned to the team and reclaimed his second-in-command role with the Bulls. Rodman, exhausted with having to conform to the rules of the game more than normal and more in the limelight than ever with the press due to his expanded role, was worn out.
Rodman came to Jackson and requested a vacation. He wanted some time to let loose and just get some misbehavior out of his system.
The Bulls and Rodman agreed on a 48-hour break in which Rodman flew to Vegas and went on a bender.
Rodman overstayed his vacation a tad, and Jordan had to drag him back to reality, literally.
Phil Jackson and his unique rise to coaching
Phil Jackson, who very well might have thought of the triangle while on an acid trip, was a hippy. His non-conformist attitude and Native American background helped he and Rodman bond in many ways.
Jackson’s start with coaching was in Puerto Rico in games that were not quite as organized as the NBA. The safety following the games was questionable, as Jackson talked of rocks being thrown at your car, fires started, and chicken blood being spilled on the opposing team’s bench.
Jackson would work his way up and accept an assistant coaching role with the Bulls to Doug Collins. Following the 1989 season in which Collins and the Bulls failed to make it past the Detroit Pistons, Jackson was promoted and Collins fired.
Isiah Thomas who might be full of it
The Bad Boy Pistons very well could be considered one of the main characters all on their own to Sunday night’s episodes, as they were detrimental to Jordan’s title hopes in 1989 and one of the only teams to figure out how to beat Jordan and the Bulls.
They were extremely physical and did everything they could to keep Jordan from lifting off, where he could be ever-so-crafty to find his buckets.
The rivalry with Detroit was compelling in and of its own right, especially given the storyline of Rodman being on that Pistons team.
Toward the end of episode 4, though, we got an honest look into just how mad Michael Jordan is at Isiah Thomas and the Pistons.
In the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls would have their way with the Pistons, winning the series in a swift four-game sweep. The Bulls left the floor without shaking hands with Jordan and the Bulls.
Isiah Thomas in his sit-down interview with The Last Dance producers inserted that this was kind of just the way things were in those days — rugged, competitive, and mean.
Jordan clearly doesn’t buy this. He said anything that comes from Thomas on the topic is “bullsh–.”
It’s perhaps the first moment in the series that Jordan in his sit-down interviews has been visibly mad. We’ve seen some light frustration from him, but Jordan, asked if he wanted to see a clip of Thomas explaining he and the Pistons walking off without shaking hands, hardly wanted to even give it the time of day.
“You can show me anything you want. There’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t an a–ho–,” Jordan would say.
Jordan would go on to talk about how he and the Bulls shook hands with the Bulls everytime the tables were turned.
“Two years in a row, we shook their hands when they beat us. There was a certain respect to the game that we paid to them. That’s sportsmanship.”
Clips played of Jordan and the Bulls shaking Thomas’s hand. It’s clear, Jordan hates the Pistons more than just about any other team in the league.
Next week we’ll get episodes 5 and 6, and we’ll move into the second half of the highly anticipated 10-part docuseries on Jordan and the Bulls. More main characters to come.