Dennis Rodman is widely beloved by Bulls fans for his on-court theatrics and the integral role he played in the second three-peat. But at first, his fit with the team wasn't necessarily seamless.
When Jerry Krause acquired Rodman from the San Antonio Spurs in 1995, The Worm was regarded as one of the most flammable personalities in the league to the point of being destructive. And his history as an enforcer with the Bad Boy Pistons who battered the Bulls in the late '80s added another interpersonal hurdle for him to clear in Chicago, especially with Scottie Pippen, who has since admitted to harboring ill will towards Rodman after a hard flagrant foul in the 1991 playoffs.
But Episode 3 of "The Last Dance" illustrates Rodman's immense value to the Bulls' second three-peat. His hard-nosed, energetic style of play and willingness to do "the dirty work" was undoubtedly one of the separating factors between the Bulls being an NBA powerhouse and an all-time sports dynasty.
Still, there were hiccups throughout his tenure. One came early in the 1997-98 season while Pippen was sidelined after postponing essential foot surgery to spite the team for his short-change contract. The Bulls started the season 8-7, and Rodman's motivation was visibly waning. "I'm bored," he's depicted saying to a throng of reporters in "The Last Dance."
That frustration culminated in a reckless ejection from an undefined early-season game. With the team already short-handed and stumbling, Jordan was furious at Rodman for the mental lapse.
But Rodman recognized his error and did his best to make it up to Jordan by making a rare visit to his hotel room shortly after the incident. As present-day Jordan tells it, Rodman knocked on his door and asked to share a cigar, despite knowing Rodman never smoked them. Even without explicit words of apology, the gesture showed his remorse.
"He didn't say an apology. He didn't say anything," Jordan said in the documentary. "But by him coming to my room, it was his way of saying, ‘Look, man. I f**ked up.' And from that point on, Dennis was straight as an arrow. And we started to win."
Rodman's energy, specifically, shifted, and the Bulls won nine of their next 11 games. The rest is history.
"Dennis is the one who held us together while Scottie was out," Jackson said in the documentary.
Many would be surprised to hear that sentiment upon Rodman's arrival with the Bulls. But it goes to show the strength of the culture the team established, as well as Rodman's commitment to winning.
How Dennis Rodman apologized to Michael Jordan for being ejected from a game originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago