On Dennis Rodman, 'The Walk of Shame' and Bulls' rebounding edge vs. Knicks

On Dennis Rodman, 'The Walk of Shame' and Bulls' rebounding edge vs. Knicks

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.

RELATED: Bulls' dynasty brought the stars out in full force, from Boris Becker to Eddie Vedder

“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.

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Report: Vote scheduled for ‘20-to-22’ team NBA return plan, expected to pass

Report: Vote scheduled for ‘20-to-22’ team NBA return plan, expected to pass

The NBA is expected to have a plan to resume its season approved by owners at a vote on Thursday, June 4, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

The news comes on the heels of a call with the Board of Governors Friday that yielded nothing definitive. Four potential formats for relaunching the season and a target date of July 31 to resume play were reportedly floated.

But the above report from Wojnarowski marks the most marked progress towards the league formally agreeing on a return-to-play plan to date.

Predictably, the precise details of the plan are not yet known. In conjunction with Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne, Wojnarowski reported that the plan is expected to feature invitations for “20-to-22” teams.

That would mean no invite for the Bulls — perhaps a blessing in disguise (or dressed plainly). The Bulls are currently paused with the 24th-best record in the NBA at 22-43, and are 8.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference.

Still, the team opened the Advocate Center Friday morning with clearance from both Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago officials. Players in the area will be permitted to undergo NBA-sanctioned treatments at the facility, an opportunity which Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn have already taken advantage of. Voluntary, socially-distanced, individual workouts may begin Wednesday when Chicago is expected to enter Phase 3 of its reopening. Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley will be en route to the city soon.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. A resumption bid seems on the cusp of coming to fruition.

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How story of Michael Jordan secretly practicing with Warriors was unearthed

How story of Michael Jordan secretly practicing with Warriors was unearthed

Before Michael Jordan rejoined the Bulls, he was a Warrior for 48 hours. Figuratively, of course.

No, Jordan didn’t officially sign (or even consider the notion) with the Warriors during the MLB strike that punctuated his first retirement amid the 1994-95 NBA season. But he did secretly practice with the Dubs multiple times whilst retired — and, with rare purpose, dominated multiple All-Stars in midseason condition. 

That story was unearthed on NBC Sports’ “Sports Uncovered” podcast. Some of the people behind the production of the podcast, NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson, Ryan McGuffey and Tony Gill, joined Jason Goff on the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast to discuss the behind-the-scenes machinations behind its creation.

McGuffey called the secret Jordan-Warriors practice runs the “golden uncovered nugget” of the podcast. And it came about rather serendipitously, in a chance interview with Tim Hardaway.

“The Tim Hardaway interview kind of fell in our lap. He was in our office one day and it was like, ‘Hey, do you want Tim Hardaway?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah!’” McGuffey said. “I mean, he was an All-Star. I don’t know if it’ll give us anything, I don’t know if it’ll lead to anything. 

“Sometimes the interviews you don’t plan for are the ones that become a stone that you turn over and you’re like ‘What is this?’ And Tim Hardaway made a comment, I asked about the Berto Center practices and whether or not he understood what was going on here in Chicago. And he said, ‘I’m gonna get in trouble for saying this.’ ... When a guy says that, you know you got something."

They did, indeed. From there, on recommendation from Hardaway, the crew got in touch with Rod Higgins, then an assistant coach with the Warriors, now the Atlanta Hawks' VP of basketball operations. As detailed in the podcast, it was through a connection with Higgins that Jordan was even allowed to participate in the practices in the first place.

McGuffey and company entered their sit-down with Higgins ready to pry, equipped with volumes of follow-up questions and previously-researched points. But Higgins was ready to share.

“We reached out, found Higgins with the Hawks and reached out to them and told them exactly why we wanted to do the interview. We said this is the story, here’s what’s been said and can you validate?" McGuffey said. "And he didn’t validate it, he didn’t double down, he tripled down and gave us more facts, more details.”

You can hear those details by listening to the Sports Uncovered podcast here, via the embedded player below or wherever you get your podcasts.

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