When Dennis Rodman first came to Chicago it was certainly a controversial move. He had the funky hair, he had an attitude, but most importantly he was a “Bad Boy.” How could someone who so recently, literally beat up on Michael Jordan and the Bulls fit in the locker room?
It was a legitimate question, but to the public it seemed like all of that was forgotten as soon as Rodman made it to Chicago, since the team was playing so well. It seemed like Rodman must’ve made an incredible first impression.
Not so much.
In the third episode of “The Last Dance,” Phil Jackson and Rodman recall the first time they met, and from the sound of it, the only way things could’ve gone worse is if a fight had somehow broken out.
“It was awful,” Jackson said. “I walk into Jerry Krause’s house. (Rodman's) sitting on the couch. He’s got a pool boy hat over his eyes. He’s got the rings in his nose and his mouth, and he doesn’t stand up to greet me. I said, ‘Stand up Dennis, take your hat off, shake hands. Let’s go outside and talk.’”
Rodman remembers the meeting not going too well, himself.
“We had to break bread then, at the house,” Rodman said. “So he basically said, ‘ Dennis, do you want to come play for the Bulls?’ I said, ‘I don’t care, whatever. What’s up?’”
Not the greatest way to start a relationship with your new coach...
But winning apparently heals all wounds. The Bulls won nine of their first 10 games en route to their 72-win season, and Jordan and Scottie Pippen say Rodman fit in perfectly on the floor.
Later, Jackson and Rodman discuss how special their relationship became, despite their rocky start.
“Dennis and I had this Native American bond between us,” Jackson said. “In the team room I had a bear claw necklace, a turtle shell that came from another reservation and various other Indian artifacts.”
“Dennis is like, ‘Wow, I have this necklace from the Ponca Indians in Oklahoma. I’m hip to that.’ I say, “Well Dennis, in their tradition, and the tradition that I knew, you would be a heyoka — a backward-walking person. They were people that were different and they were a heyoka. So you’re the heyoka in this tribe.”
That understanding clearly meant a lot to Rodman.
“Phil realized that I was different, man,” Rodman said. “Phil knew me so well because he knew I needed to get my head right. That’s what was so cool about playing with that team. If anybody needed something, they were all about it. And Phil was very cool about it.”Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.