We used to call it The Walk of Shame.
We did so good naturedly — well, for the most part — because we also knew how much intrigue covering and writing about Dennis Rodman provided.
But there’s no other way to describe the scene that Rodman began during the 1996 playoffs. Instead of standing in front of his locker and answering questions like players not brought to a postgame press conference have done for years, Rodman held his media sessions as he walked from the locker room to the loading dock that served as the players’ exit.
Rodman and his camp devised this strategy to make it have more a red-carpet feel. He always fancied himself as less a basketball player and more of a shock-value entertainer.
So there we’d be, a media horde in waiting, as Rodman exited the locker room — often without showering — and barreled down a United Center hallway. Cameramen would be forced to backpedal as they stayed in front of the moving Rodman. Helpers running cords to those cameras not running on batteries would be unspooling rapidly. And print journalists would be walking, firing questions and taking notes — all while trying not to trip.
It wasn’t pretty.
Almost every game, somebody would trip, bump into someone, curse or all of the above.
It wasn’t conventional. But little Rodman did ever was.
On this night, as the Bulls closed out the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Knicks in five games, Rodman got ejected. He strode defiantly past the Knicks bench towards the Bulls locker room, firing his jersey into the stands.
But not before he grabbed 12 rebounds to average 15.6 for the series and help the Bulls establish a plus-7.8 advantage on the boards. In fact, given that the Bulls shot just 40.8% for the series against the extremely physical Knicks, defense and rebounding proved critical to advance.
Rodman celebrated his 35th birthday on the off day between Game 4 in New York and Game 5 in Chicago. He waited to throw himself a party until after Game 5, a lavish affair at the since-shuttered Crobar, which Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and others attended.
“Make it quick,” Michael Jordan joked as he ascended the dais to begin his postgame press conference. “I have to go to Dennis Rodman’s party.”
Whether Jordan was joking or not, Rodman was long gone, his Walk of Shame complete and a night of partying in front of him.
Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.