The Bulls have been fortunate enough down the years to have some true legends of the game suit up in their famed red, white, and black jerseys. Whether that be the hard-nosed Jerry Sloan, leading the team to their first ever title, or ‘Chet the Jet’ Walker weaving his way down the court at speed, or Scottie Pippen’s all-around ability helping to cement a dynasty or, of course, Michael ‘Air’ Jordan flying not only the Bulls to levels never thought possible, but the entire sport.
If there’s one legend though, where it’s easy to forget about their utterly brilliant mad-cap behaviour on the court, because of their utterly brilliant mad-cap behaviour off it, it’s Dennis Rodman. The Madonna dating, bad boy of basketball, who must have single-handedly kept the nineties hair dye industry ticking over, became a cultural sensation whose crazed antics usually made the front pages of newspapers, even more than they did the back.
Well, we’re here to shine a light back onto some of his masterful performances for the three years he was at the United Center. Here’s our picks for Dennis Rodman’s greatest games for the Bulls.
06/16/96 – Seattle Supersonics v Chicago Bulls
It was originally seen as a gamble when, then, GM Jerry Krause obtained Rodman from the Spurs. He quickly silenced those doubters though, when he slotted seamlessly into the side, taking over on defensive duties, which allowed Jordan and Pippen to focus more on sinking those baskets. Now that the team had someone who was capable of blocking shots and garnering rebounds seemingly for fun, they managed to rack up a record-breaking 72 wins in the 95/96 season, which was then only beaten by the Warriors in 2016.
All those games won would’ve meant nearly nothing though, if the Bulls didn’t capture the league championship at the end of it all. To do that, they had to beat the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA Finals. They had players such as the tough-tackling, trash-talking Gary Payton, as well as Shawn Kemp, who was a scary combination of power fused with speed.
Thankfully, the Bulls were up to the task, winning the series 4-2. Rodman especially stepped up in Game 6, where he dominated the boards, stealing 19 rebounds, and also coming through with some big clutch points.
01/10/97 – Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks
Ok, this game didn’t come in a Finals, but it’s probably the best example of Rodman showcasing his tenacious determination to do the dirty work that allowed his teammates to excel. The Bulls came into this game 29-4, against a gritty Bucks side that had only gone 17-14. Everyone assumed that the Bulls would just steamroll the Bucks and easily seize their 30th winning game.
However, the Bucks came out swinging, and quickly proved themselves formidable opponents. Rodman was unfazed though, and he stepped up to match their fight. He ended the night with 16 defensive-rebounds, 10 offensive-rebounds, 2 steals, and 16 points, helping blast the Bulls to victory.
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06/07/98 – Utah Jazz v Chicago Bulls
Rodman was 37 when the 98 NBA Finals came round, and his age was starting to catch up with him. He also happened to be pitted against one of his most fearsome opponents, the towering Karl Malone, known as ‘The Mailman’ because he always delivered. A creaking Rodman was jobbed with stopping the Utah Jazz’s star-man from reaching the mail-box then, and apart from a brutal performance in Game Five where Malone threw-down 39 points, he mostly succeeded.
The top example of this was Game Three, where the Jazz were humiliated by a stratospheric 42-point loss, losing 54-96 in Chicago. Malone started the game hot, impressively nailing his first 6 shots in a row. Rodman was then buzzed into the game, and instantly started aggravating Malone, essentially forcing him into mistakes and wrestling the momentum back to the Bulls, who then steamrolled the game.
If you’re looking for a nice memento for his legendary on-court action, then FOCO releases Dennis Rodman Chicago Bulls NBA 75th anniversary bobblehead.
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