In a time of need for content in the basketball world, The Last Dance came through once again with jaw-dropping moments in episodes three and four. From the theatrics that made Dennis Rodman the impactful player he was, to the unique style of coaching Phil Jackson had for a team full of big-minded individuals, these two hours did not disappoint.
After getting a taste of just the beginning in episode one and two, we got a glimpse of the life of Dennis Rodman on the Chicago Bulls. From his hard-earned championships with the Detroit Pistons to his dominance on the glass with the Bulls, Rodman’s career is one to admire for all the players today who were told they weren’t going to make it.
However, one of Rodman’s most memorable moments from the 1997 - 1998 season wasn’t on the court. Instead, being Michael Jordan’s Robin while Scottie Pippen was out with an injury took a toll on the Bulls’ big-man - he needed a vacation.
And Rodman did just that. In the middle of the season, Rodman went to coach Phil Jackson with a request: he needed time off to go to Las Vegas. Not only was this an outlandish request made by Rodman, but the Bulls were getting back to full strength and were about to wreak havoc on the rest of the league.
The easy answer from Phil would’ve been a simple no, but the Zen Master himself understood the uniqueness of Dennis Rodman and granted him a 48-hour vacation - yes, just as you’re thinking right now, he slightly went over his allotted 48 hours.
With the way social media plays a role today, this form of a vacation for an impact player on a championship-contending team would break the internet. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime scenario for a player like Rodman, and today’s players had some fun on social media talking about Rodman’s infamous 48-hour trip to Vegas.
Load Management is a hot topic around the league, but as All-Star Donovan Mitchell mentioned, Dennis Rodman’s trip to Vegas started it all. It was an act that you would never think could happen in real life, but Rodman needed the break for him to give the Bulls everything he had for one last run at the title. But still, Alex Caruso is amazed that Rodman pulled this maneuver off.
We’re just as amazed as you are, Alex. However, it takes a coach who understands his players to the fullest to trust a player that much. This episode showed how great of a coach, both on and off the court, Phil Jackson was. His unstoppable Triangle offense certainly helped, but his ability to handle the personalities of the league’s marquee players helped him hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy 11 times - the most by any coach in the league’s history.
His greatness was talked about throughout the night by current players, but it was a player that he coached to two championships that had the most impactful tweet that night.
It didn’t take a long paragraph or memoir for Pau Gasol, arguably the best big-man Phil Jackson has ever coached, to share his respect as he put it, to the “Best basketball coach in the history!”.
The NBA season is full of ups and downs for even the best teams ever assembled. Having a coach like Phil Jackson at the head of the ship allows players to be who they truly are, both in the heat of battle and off the court.