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ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’ Michael Jordan series: Reactions to Episodes 3 and 4

Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan tries to pull back teammate Dennis Rodman after Rodman receives a technical foul during Game 1 of the 1997 Eastern Conference finals again the Miami Heat.
Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan tries to pull back teammate Dennis Rodman after Rodman receives a technical foul during Game 1 of the 1997 Eastern Conference finals again the Miami Heat.
(Fred Jewell / Associated Press)

ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ final championship run during the 1997-98 season, continued Sunday with Episodes 3 and 4.

The 10-part series, which features never-before-seen video footage of Jordan’s tenure with the Bulls amid one of the greatest dynasties in sports history, continues the next three Sundays.

Dennis Rodman spoke at the start of Episode 3, setting the tone for the episode by saying he didn’t think the Bulls would have won their last three titles without him. “They really don’t do the things that I do,” Rodman said, when speaking about Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

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Episode 3 began with a look at Rodman’s start with the Detroit Pistons in the late 1980s.

With the Pistons and Bulls rising in the Eastern Conference in the last 1980s, Chicago marked its ascent into the NBA’s upper echelon with its incredible playoff series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989. “The shot” — Jordan’s famous series-clinching basket at the buzzer — might have gone down differently if Ron Harper was guarding Jordan instead of Craig Ehlo. Harper, at least, seems to think so.

Jordan, looking back at the Bulls’ victory over the Cavaliers more than 30 years later, was emphatic about what the playoff series victory meant: “Whoever’s not with us, all you ... go to hell.

The Pistons and Bulls met in the Eastern Conference finals. Detroit adopted the “Michael Jordan rules” — essentially find a way to stop him or take him down, literally.

Rodman joining the Bulls seemed almost otherworldly, at first, but it quickly came apparent how vital a role he played in helping Chicago secure its second three-peat.

While Rodman played an integral part in the Bulls’ success, coach Phil Jackson quickly learned they were dealing with someone who was not a typical NBA player. That’s why the Bulls allowed Rodman to take a mid-season vacation to Las Vegas.

But Jordan didn’t have any problems pulling him out of bed — with girlfriend Carmen Electra watching — when his Las Vegas vacation went too long.

When the Bulls decided to hire Jackson as coach Doug Collins’ replacement, Jordan wasn’t happy. “I was not a fan of Phil Jackson when he came in. He was coming in to take the ball out of my hands. Doug wanted to put the ball in my hands.”

While Jordan eventually got used to Jackson’s coaching style, he hasn’t gotten over the Pistons walking off the court before time expired at the conclusion of the 1991 Eastern Conference finals. The Pistons infamously walked off the court with seconds remaining in the game, and Jordan isn’t buying Isiah Thomas’ explanation that teams walking off early was just normal for the era.

“I know it’s all b-------,” Jordan said. “Whatever he says now, you know it wasn’t his true actions then. He has time enough to think about it. Or the reaction of the public that has kind of changed his perspective of it. You can show me anything you want. There’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t an a------.”

Following the Bulls’ win over the Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals, Jordan’s teammates were a little surprised to see the raw emotion he showed.


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