Chicago Bulls

Scottie Pippen explains why second half of Bulls' title run was more special

Scottie Pippen explains why second half of Bulls' title run was more special

ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary series is going to get plenty of attention with the rest of the sports world on hold.

The series will focus on the Bulls’ final title season, 1997-98, and was recently moved up to debut on April 19.

Scottie Pippen talked about those title years for the Bulls in a recent episode of his ESPN show, “The Jump.” He explained what it was like knowing the 1997-98 season would be the team’s last run together.

“For me, it was really everything coming to a head for us,” Pippen said. “A great run through the 90s. Dennis [Rodman] had came and joined us the second half of that run, and that part was really the more special part because we were the best team in basketball for a long time, and no one knocked us off. Knowing that that was the end of our run and that we had to end it that way, we made it very special, and we wanted to end it with a championship.”

It’s noteworthy that Pippen says the second three-peat felt more special than the first. It would make sense for the team’s first title to be special because it was the breakthrough, but Pippen likes the fact that the Bulls were able to maintain their throne for so long and never lose a playoff series with a full strength team.

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Dennis Rodman brushed off big-men, trash-talk and curfew during Bulls dynasty

Dennis Rodman brushed off big-men, trash-talk and curfew during Bulls dynasty

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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Pacers GM Chad Buchanan pulls out of consideration for Bulls' front office job

Pacers GM Chad Buchanan pulls out of consideration for Bulls' front office job

Chad Buchanan has worked closely and successfully with Kevin Pritchard at two NBA franchises, including their current situation with the Indiana Pacers. Pritchard currently serves as the Pacers' president of basketball operations, Buchanan the general manager.

Ultimately, that comfort level and a strong personal situation led Buchanan to wanting to stay put in Indiana. Buchanan, one of Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf’s four initial interview targets to run basketball operations in a new-look front office, conveyed his desire to stay, according to a source. The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported the news.

The Bulls remain hopeful to receive permission to interview Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster and Heat vice president of basketball operations/assistant general manager Adam Simon. Reinsdorf’s goal is to build a front office with depth, and whomever is hired to head Bulls’ basketball operations could make additional hires and be charged with overhauling the scouting department.

Executive vice president John Paxson, who largely initiated the need to modernize the front office, is expected to remain in an advisory role. However, Paxson has made clear to ownership he’s willing to play as large or as small a role as the new head of basketball operations desires.

The future of general manager Gar Forman, who largely has been moved to a scouting position, could be determined by the new hire.

As previously reported, Reinsdorf remains a fan of coach Jim Boylen. However, whomever the Bulls hire to run basketball operations will have full authority, including ultimately deciding the coaching staff’s future.

One rising force in the Bulls’ front office who is expected to be safe is assistant general manager Steve Weinman, a source said. He has made an impression not only internally but among rival league executives for his salary cap acumen and knowledge of the collective bargaining agreement.

It’s Reinsdorf’s goal to have the hire in place before a possible resumption of the 2019-20 season that has been suspended due to the COVID-19 virus. Most league observers believe any potential resumption is multiple weeks if not months away, and there is some planning for the potential loss of the balance of the season.

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