The Sunday night episode of “The Last Dance”, ESPN’s focus on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls from 1997-1998, focuses heavily on Rodman, who was a key contributor to this team. He was particularly crucial at the start of the season, when teammate Scottie Pippen was injured.
But as the season progressed and Pippen returned, Rodman “became dramatic, drinking, partying and losing touch with reality,” as Bulls writer Sam Smith put it. He approached the team and said he needed a vacation, especially in Vegas – which was greeted with skepticism.
“You let him go on vacation, we’re not going to see him,” said Jordan. “You let him go to Vegas, and we’re certainly not going to see him. “
The Bulls gave in and allowed him to leave, telling him that he had 48 hours before he had to return with the team. Pictures show Rodman having a beer and meeting a biker friend that night as fans cheered from afar. Actress Carmen Electra, who dated Rodman at the time, documented the crazy nights that followed.
“It was a blow, the party started right away,” said Electra. “We would go to his favorite restaurant, then we would go to a nightclub, then we would go after hours, it did not stop.
“It was definitely a professional risk to be Dennis’ girlfriend. He was wild. “
But two days later, Rodman did not return. Meanwhile, the Bulls were in the middle of the season, trying to defend their NBA championship. After not hearing about Rodman for several days, Jordan himself had to travel to Vegas to pick up his eccentric teammate.
“He didn’t come back on time, we had to get his ass out of bed,” said Jordan. “I’m not going to say what was in his bed, where he was, blah blah blah. “
“There was a knock on the door, it’s Michael Jordan, and I hid,” said Electra. “I didn’t want him to see me like that, so I’m hiding right behind the couch with blankets on me. Come on, we have to train. “
Either way, when Rodman returned to training, he hadn’t lost a single step physically. Bulls coach Phil Jackson forced the team into conditioning training to get him back in shape, but Rodman sprinted in front of everyone.
“The Last Dance” is broadcast on Sunday evening on ESPN at 9 p.m.