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‘The Last Dance’: On bad boys and colors

Delfin Dioquino

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‘The Last Dance’: On bad boys and colors


Episodes 3 and 4 of 'The Last Dance' feature the flamboyant Dennis Rodman, coach Phil Jackson, and the fierce rivalry between the Bulls and the Pistons

MANILA, Philippines – After Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, two more key Chicago Bulls figures get their own episodes in The Last Dance.

Here are some things to expect in the latest offering of the 10-part documentary series:

Colorful character

Episode 3 of the documentary centers around Dennis Rodman, his early NBA career with the Detroit Pistons and his time with the Bulls.

While Rodman created a bad boy image with the Pistons when Detroit ruled the Eastern Conference and won back-to-back NBA crowns in 1989 and 1990, he was the exact opposite when he entered the league.

As Pistons icon Isiah Thomas described Rodman: “When he first came to Detroit, he was just an innocent, beautiful person, but a little naive about the world.”

Rodman developed into one of the best – if not the greatest – rebounding forwards in NBA history, leading the league in rebounds for 7 straight seasons.

In one scene, Rodman explains his uncanny ability to dominate the boards – he once averaged 18.7 rebounds in a season – saying he learned to position himself by studying how teammates and opponents shoot the ball.

The latest episodes also put a spotlight on Rodman’s off-court issues, among them the time he was found with a gun in his car, his relationship with Madonna, and his partying exploits in Las Vegas.

Despite his eccentric personality, Rodman – who also amused with his ever-changing hair color – flourished under the coaches who best understood him, particularly Pistons’ Chuck Daly and Bulls’ Phil Jackson.

According to Rodman – nicknamed The Worm – Jackson saw him as a “great friend” while Daly allowed the fierce forward to be himself, saying, “You don’t put a saddle on a mustang.”

Deep-seated rivalry

If Michael Jordan and the Bulls were then the Superman of the NBA, the Pistons were the Kryptonite.

After Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Jordan was then becoming the next big NBA star, but his ascension along with the Bulls had been derailed plenty of times by the defensive-minded Detroit.

The Pistons booted the Bulls out of the playoffs for 3 straight seasons, with the last two seasons ending with back-to-back NBA championships.

“We knew how important to the NBA it was to get Michael to go to the next level. The blueprint was Larry, Magic, and now Michael,” said Pistons forward John Salley, who eventually joined the Bulls later in his career.

“All of a sudden, there was this little team in Detroit who just messed up the whole story. We loved that.”

The infamous “Jordan Rules” also gets tackled, the ploy the Pistons enforced to contain the five-time NBA MVP.

But Jordan and the Bulls eventually got over the hump against their rivals with a sweep of the 1990 conference finals, which ended with a walk-out as the Pistons left the court even before time expired and avoided the traditional handshake.

Jordan took offense of the gesture, which is considered unsportsmanlike in basketball standards, while Thomas defended their actions.

“We had gotten past them and that was to me better than, in some ways, winning a championship,” Jordan said.

Calling the shots

Before turning into a decorated mentor, Jackson got turned down by former Bulls coach Stan Albeck for not being dressed well when he first sought an assistant coaching job. 

Jackson was accepted two years later and was taken under the wings of Tex Winter, the innovator of the triangle offense.

Apparently, Jackson had always went against the norm, as shown by his decision to abandon the isolation style that benefitted Jordan and incorporate the triangle offense when he replaced Doug Collins as Bulls head coach.

Jackson was also revealed to infuse Native American and Zen Buddhism philosophies into the Bulls’ culture.

“I had never met a coach who was that different and genuine when it came to bringing the team together,” said Bulls guard Steve Kerr of Jackson.

Jackson saw his ways pay off as he guided the Bulls to 6 championship and the Los Angeles Lakers to 5 titles. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.