Dennis Rodman listened to the question, thought about it for a second and then started brushing his teeth.
After all, he had to catch up with World Championship Wrestling members Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags, who had just declared the Bulls forward an honorary “Nasty Boy.”
Reporters’ notes from 24 years ago don’t shed much enlightenment on what such a title signifies. But if Rodman practiced hygiene for it — this is, after all, a player who often eschewed a postgame shower — then it must’ve been special.
Before a recent re-broadcast of this 1996 Bulls’ title run, which continues with Sunday night’s showing of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals in Orlando, I wrote about Rodman’s “Walk of Shame.” This was the postgame routine Rodman utilized to mimic a red carpet’s entrance, walking down a hallway to answer postgame questions rather than doing so while standing in front of his locker.
Rodman mostly employed this practice at home games, which is why, on this day, he cut short his postgame media session to brush his teeth inside the visitors’ locker room.
One might surmise that Rodman’s trademark outrageousness was the story. That his play overshadowed his behavior makes it time to shift the focus back to on the court.
Man, Rodman was something for the Bulls’ second three-peat, but perhaps never more evidently than during this title run and in this series. After a nine-point, 16-rebound effort in Game 3, Rodman’s averages for the series sat at 12.3 points and 16.3 rebounds.
The Bulls held large rebounding advantages in all three victories.
Plus, what other team could largely utilize single coverage using a 6-foot-7 defender like Rodman on the 7-1 Shaquille O’Neal? In this game, O’Neal, who also matched against Luc Longley and Bill Wennington at times, managed just 17 points on 8-for-19 shooting.
“[O’Neal] can talk all the trash he wants,” Rodman said. “I think his game is totally off. I’m not going to snap either. I got people grabbing me. I got people clawing and scratching at me. It doesn’t matter. I like that.
“Shaq hit me with an elbow twice, but that’s great. I like that kind of physical play.”
Rodman said these words before going to brush his teeth and then meet his wrestler buddies. But he had one more thing to say, reminding everyone that he didn’t have a curfew.
Just when you tried to steer the focus back to Rodman’s sublime on-the-court play, he wouldn’t always let you.
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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