Episode 3 and 4 of the Last Dance provided us with some more insight to Bulls beyond just Jordan. From Jackson’s humble beginnings, to a kindred spirit trying to find his way, these episodes gave some interesting takeaways, let's take a look.
Rodman; a Misunderstood Spirit
Dennis Rodman had many ups and downs in his basketball career and in his personal life, but this doc has revealed the intelligence Rodman possesses when it came to basketball. Rodman was a special one of a kind player. There was always an inner battle for Rodman and dying his hair, wearing piercings all over his body, and dressing more flamboyantly was his way to deal. But boy, was Rodman a monster on the court.
We learn that Jerry Krause flat out refused to acquire Rodman initially because of his erratic behaviour off the court, but finally Krause gave in. Krause later stated he felt the team would put Rodman in the right frame of mind with the right people. When Pippen missed 35 games during the 97-98 season, Rodman became Jordan's wingman, he became the ignition to the Bulls’ flame.
We learn of Rodman’s crazy vacay to Las Vegas during mid season because he needed to get away for a few days and be Dennis Rodman. Amazingly despite partying and drinking for a few days, it didn't have any effect on Rodman's physical fitness. Rodman seemed to always be sharp and that was what Jordan respected about the worm. He might be unpredictable but the Bulls could always count on Rodman to perform.
The Hate for the Pistons is Still There
The Bulls and Pistons despised each other in the late 80s and early 90s and they still hate each other till this day, and it’s awesome! A team full of bullies led by their leader Isaiah Thomas, the Pistons were the most hated team in the league, and to this day Jordan still has a hatred for the bad boys.
From 88’-91’ these two teams would engage in some VERY physical series. So physical the “Jordan Rules” came into existence. The rules; when Jordan drives the lane beat the crap out of him.
It all came to a head when the Bulls finally broke through in 91’ and the Pistons decided to walk off without shaking hands. The excuse made by Thomas was that the Celtics did it to them so they could do it to the Bulls. Jordan never forgot.
Nonetheless the Bulls were headed to their first NBA Finals, slaying down their heated rival. Thomas was denied a spot on the Dream Team the following season, Horace Grant still thinks the Pistons are “little bitches”, what a glorious time.
The Triangle was Born
With the help of Tex Winters, Phil Jackson introduced the NBA with the triangle when he became head coach of the Bulls in 1989. Needless to say it took Jordan awhile to come on board with the system.
"Everybody has an opportunity to touch the ball, but I didn't want Bill Cartwright to have the ball with five seconds left. That's not equal-opportunity offense, that's fucking bullshit"
Though Jordan warmed up to Jackson's philosophy it meant MJ would have to share the rock more than he was accustomed to. It also forced other players to step up. The offence created more spacing for the players, forcing defence to shift, and exploiting mismatches with the ball movement. Phil's system helped Chicago get to the next level and beyond.
It went from being all about Jordan to including everyone on the play and distributing the ball. Pippen mentions it in the episode.
"Doug's approach was more catered to Michael, and Phil's approach was more catered to the team,"
Jackson knew that utilizing his full roster would be the key to success. The triangle offense has a huge place in basketball history. Hey it helped Jackson become the most successful coach in NBA history.