The Chicago Bulls made a polarizing trade before the 1995-96 season when they acquired Dennis Rodman from the San Antonio Spurs for Will Perdue. It was controversial since the rebounding machine had several confrontations with Bulls superstars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen when he was on the Detroit Pistons.
Both Jordan and Pippen may have had their differences with Rodman, but they knew what he brought to the table and impacted winning. Despite the trio having tremendous success together, though, Jordan and Pippen rarely spoke with Rodman because it was so challenging to get the Worm’s attention.
That’s why when Jordan needed to make an important basketball point to Rodman, he grabbed him by both temples and almost treated him as a kid.
Michael Jordan did drastic measure to get Dennis Rodman’s attention
According to Hall of Fame writer Sam Smith, Jordan did a drastic thing to get Rodman’s attention if he needed to tell him something important basketball-related.
“Jordan would later say when he had to make a point to Rodman he’d grab him by both temples and demand Rodman look him in the eye and then ask him several times if he understood what Jordan was saying and to repeat if he did,” Smith wrote in 2009 when Jordan was inducted into the Hall of Fame. “Rodman wasn’t stupid. Really, just shy and eventually acting out.”
Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman were teammates for three seasons on the Bulls. They captured three consecutive championships and established themselves as one of the best trios in NBA history. Rodman was a new character for Jordan to deal with on the Bulls, and both guys have admitted that they rarely — if ever– talked or hung out off the court.
However, in The Last Dance docuseries, Jordan paid Rodman the ultimate compliment and essentially proved that the Bulls needed Rodzilla during the second three-peat.
Michael Jordan: Dennis Rodman was one of the smartest players I played with
In Episode 3 of The Last Dance, Jordan said Rodman was one of the smartest players he played with during his Hall of Fame career. It was quite the compliment from His Airness, who played with several intelligent players.
“Dennis was one of the smartest guys I played with,” Jordan said. “He understood defensive strategy with all the rotations. He had no limits in terms of what he does.”
Rodman is undoubtedly one of the greatest defenders and rebounders in NBA history. He could guard multiple positions and studied players’ strengths and weaknesses. The two-time All-Star won two Defensive Player of the Year Awards with the Pistons and is 12th all-time in rebounds per game (13.1).
Jordan was the best player in the NBA, but Rodman did all of the dirty work to help the Bulls win three straight rings in ’96, ’97, and ’98. He finished his Chicago career with averages of 5.2 points and 15.3 rebounds and is the Bulls’ all-time leader in rebounds per game.
It’s fascinating that Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman won three championships together, especially when you consider Rodman was Jordan and Pippen’s rival on the Pistons. However, Dennis the Menace wasn’t the only member of the “Bad Boys” to win a title with MJ and Scottie in 1995-96.
John Salley was on the 1995-96 Bulls
Several basketball fans forget that John Salley signed with the Bulls near the end of the 1995-96 season as a free agent. Of course, his best years in the NBA were when he was on the Pistons beating up Jordan and Pippen.
It had to be awkward for Jordan and Pippen to be teammates with two guys who physically tried to hurt them back in the day. Salley and Rodman won two titles with the Pistons, who dominated Jordan in the postseason until the ’91 Eastern Conference Finals.
Salley ended up with four rings. He won his fourth one in 1999-00 with the Los Angeles Lakers. Meanwhile, Jordan and Pippen won six, and Rodman captured five.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.