“The Last Dance” Episodes 3 and 4

Sunday, April 26th 2020, ESPN aired episodes 3 and 4 of “The Last Dance”, a 10-part series focused on the 1998 Chicago Bulls and Superstar Legend Michael Jordan. If you haven’t seen episodes 1 or 2 yet, I highly recommend watching those first before 3 and 4. I also have an article that summarizes the main points of those episodes here:

https://ballingstats.wixsite.com/ballingstats/post/the-last-dance-episodes-1-2

While the first two episodes focused on two very specific people, namely Jerry Kraus and Scottie Pippen, episodes three and four explore the 80s-90s Bulls through the perspective of Dennis Rodman.


Dennis Rodman is a name that almost all NBA fans know, yet some know very little about. Going into last nights episode, I only knew that Dennis Rodman was a forward for MJ’s bulls that had some wacky hair and got into fights. That was about it. Oh, and that he was a monster at rebounding.


I wasn’t old enough yet in 1998 to appreciate the NBA as I was just born, but not knowing much about Rodman made Sunday night’s episode so much more fun.

Dennis Rodman was an extremely interesting character. He didn’t play Division 1 Basketball in college, he played in the NAIA. Rodman averaged 7.1 points a game over his career, yet is a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame. Rodman was never really seen as a third all star on the Bulls, yet has more rings than Michael Jordan.


Dennis wasn’t the traditional basketball star. He clearly dealt with a lot of personal struggles, and the way he dealt with them wasn’t always healthy. Episode three shows Rodman taking an unapproved vacation to Las Vegas during the middle of the season. That’s insane! I can’t even imagine what would happen if someone like D’wight Howard or Draymond Green showed up to games with beers or disappeared for long periods of time.


What’s even crazier? It worked for Rodman. Dennis would come back from these long benders refreshed and ready to go.

Most coaches would have cut Rodman right then and there. Most coaches.

As we learned more about Dennis Rodman, the story naturally flowed into his relationship with Phil Jackson. Jackson was a different kind of coach. He used yoga and Native American meditations during his practices. He looked at basketball through a more analytical lens than most coaches did at the time. Phil Jackson understood that to get the most out of Rodman, he had to let him blow of steam.

Jackson also knew that if the Bulls wanted to win a championship, he’d have to get the ball out of MJ’s hands. Jackson saw that teams could just pile coverage onto Michael and shut him down. Needing a way to get more players involved, Jackson started using a “Triangle Offense” which allowed everyone to get involved.

Jordan didn’t like this at first. MJ knew he was the best player in the league, and wanted the ball in his hands. His Airness also wanted a ring. He wanted one bad, and said on numerous occasions how he wanted to be in the same category as guys like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

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Here’s what was also covered:

  • A close look at the Shot, Jordan’s 1989 buzzer-beater in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavs. Ron Harper, later a Bulls player during their second three-peat, claims that history would be different had he, not Craig Ehlo, been tasked with defending Jordan on the play.
  • A brief look at Phil Jackson’s unconventional upbringing.
  • A look at the “Scottie migraine game”—Game 7 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, when Pippen, weakened by what he said was a devastating headache, wasn’t able to play and the Pistons ran all over the Bulls, 93-74.
  • The doc also showed just how physical the game was played back then. It’s amazing how more players weren’t more seriously injured back then.

Thank you all so much for reading, and please check back next week!

Beau Russell

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