‘The Last Dance’ takeaways: Dennis Rodman was allowed to party; without him, do Bulls win title?

“You hear a lot of negative things about Dennis Rodman. But you don’t actually know Dennis Rodman,” the former Chicago Bulls star said in the third person. “They just see what they see on the court and see what they read in the papers. They think he’s a bad person.”

In the third episode of the 10-part series on the Bulls’ 1997-98 NBA season, “The Last Dance” showed that Rodman is a complex person. He colored his hair. He sported various body piercings. He was confrontational with opponents and officials. He once dated Madonna and Carmen Electra. But the Bulls also appreciated Rodman’s rebounding, transparency and loyalty so much that they offered Rodman freedom and accountability.

With Scottie Pippen missing the first 35 games while recovering from surgery on his left foot, former Bulls coach Phil Jackson argued that “Dennis is what held us together.” Bulls legend Michael Jordan added that “Dennis was a model citizen to the point where it was driving him (bleeping) insane.” So when Pippen returned, Rodman asked Jackson if he could take a vacation.

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Dennis Rodman shares his thoughts with an official during a March 1998 game.

The three agreed that Rodman could take a 48-hour vacation in Las Vegas. He partied in Sin City with Electra and other friends for much longer than two days.

“He didn’t come back on time,” Jordan said, laughing. “We had to get his ass out of bed.”

Literally. Jordan knocked on the door of Rodman’s room in Las Vegas. Jordan declined to share details, but Electra revealed she hid behind a couch.

“It was definitely an occupational hazard to be Dennis’ girlfriend,” Electra said

To ensure that Rodman would get back in shape, Jackson organized a conditioning drill that forced everyone to match the pace of the players in front of the line. Most of them walked or jogged lightly. When Rodman reached the front of the line, though, Jordan said he held the lead against the rest of his teammates for four laps.

“He needed to get away. But in all honesty, Dennis was always there,” Jordan said. “He was always on point.”

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