After being traded to Chicago from the Spurs in 1995, Dennis Rodman quickly became a beloved Bull for his crucial role in the team's second three-peat.
But immediately upon his arrival, questions burned in regards to Rodman's fit with the team. Part of that had to do with Rodman's history of on-court antics and off-court reputation as a loose cannon. Part of it had to do with his membership on the Bad Boy Pistons teams that impeded the Bulls' quest for a title in the late 1980s.
Embedded in the latter consideration was an incident between Rodman and Scottie Pippen in Game 4 of the 1991 Eastern Conference finals, when Rodman unnecessarily thrust Pippen into a basket stanchion, drawing a flagrant foul.
The Bulls went on to complete a four-game sweep of the Pistons in that game, and a gentleman's sweep of the Lakers in the Finals weeks later, capping a postseason that is remembered today as a watershed stretch for the dynasty Bulls - a seizing of the Eastern Conference (and NBA) mantle.
After Game 4, the Pistons famously walked off their home floor without shaking hands, and Rodman penned an apology to Pippen (though Pippen reportedly didn't buy that it came by Rodman's hand).
Still, it would be understandable if bad blood lingered by the time Rodman jetted to Chicago four years later. That's why Bulls coach Phil Jackson requested Rodman personally apologize to Pippen for the incident before officially inking him in 1995.
That's according to Rodman on a recently-released episode of the Thuzio Live & Unfiltered podcast, hosted by Tiki Barber. Here's The Worm's version of events:
"When I got traded from San Antonio to Chicago, I went to Jerry Krause's house and Jerry Krause, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, me, his wife, three dogs, cat, Phil Jackson. We had a meeting at Jerry Krause's house, all of us there, and we all sat like in a triangle. You know, we didn't talk to each other at all, we all just met on business. And Phil came up to me and said, Dennis, you know, before we put you on the team could you do me a favor?' I'm like, ‘What is that Phil?' He said, ‘Could you go and tell Scottie you're sorry? (laugher)
I'm like, ‘Sorry for what?' He said, ‘You know, that series you guys had in '91.' I said, ‘You want me to go say sorry for that?' He said, ‘Would you just go do it?' I said alright. I went over to Scottie I said, ‘Scottie, sorry about that, man, you know, pushing you out of bounds.' Scottie said, ‘Don't worry about it, it's OK, it's OK, we just want to win a championship.' He said, ‘Are you on board?' I said, 'Hell yeah, I'm on board.' So that's how I signed the contract right there, I had to apologize to Scottie. (laughter)
That's the only reason I was a Chicago Bull, I had to apologize to him, and then after that, the rest was history."
Just like that, water under the bridge.
Though Rodman didn't completely temper his wild personality in Chicago, he remained reliable for the Bulls when they needed him most, and cemented his reputation as a hard-nose, relentlessly energetic rebounder and defender as part of a team that transcended the game.
Why Dennis Rodman had to apologize to Scottie Pippen before joining Bulls originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago