6 key moments from 2nd night of MJ doc ‘The Last Dance’

What we learned from the third and fourth episodes of ESPN’s documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Bulls.

SHARE 6 key moments from 2nd night of MJ doc ‘The Last Dance’

Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman during a game in 1997.

John Konstantaras/News-Sun

With the foundation laid on the first night of “The Last Dance,” the third and fourth episodes turned to Dennis Rodman, the “Bad Boys” Pistons of the late 1980s and the continued turbulence early in the 1997-98 Bulls’ campaign.

We got some candid quotes on the brutal rivalry between the Bulls and Pistons, some humorous background on Rodman’s infamous midseason Las Vegas adventure and a lot more.

Here were the key moments from the second night of ESPN’s 1997-98 Bulls doc:

Dennis Rodman, basketball genius

Early in Episode 3, there’s a remarkable sequence in which Rodman explains how he became the greatest rebounder of all time.

“I just was at my friend’s late at night, s--t, 3 or 4 in the morning, go to the gym, I’d say, ‘Shoot the ball. Shoot it over here, shoot it over here, shoot it over there, shoot it over there,’” Rodman says while gesturing. “I’d just sit there and react, react. I just practiced a lot of the angle of the ball and the trajectory of it.”

Rodman continued to describe the detail of how different players’ shots would turn into rebounds: “You got the Larry Bird, it’s going to spin. You got a Magic [Johnson], it may spin. When Michael shoots it over here, I position myself right there. Now it hits the rim and it’s boom, click, it goes back this way.”

Watching Rodman, even now, go on to describe the intricate details of something so complicated, it’s important to remember he was as smart as he was ferocious on the boards.

“The Shot”

It’s one of the most iconic moments of Michael Jordan’s career: No. 23 rising at the top of the key over Craig Ehlo, almost suspended in midair before hitting the dagger jumper to eliminate the Cavaliers.

In Episode 3, Jordan says the Cavs screwed up: “They had Craig Ehlo on me at the time, which honestly was a mistake. Because the guy that played me better was Ron Harper.”

Harper, then a star guard for Cleveland, recalls his reaction to Ehlo being put on Jordan instead: “Yeah, okay. Whatever. F--k this bull--it.”

We know what happened next: Michael stuck it, baby. Even better, here’s what he said while celebrating: “Get the f--k out of here. You can go anywhere, but you’re outta here. Whoever’s not with us, all you f---ers go to hell.”


Michael Jordan drives to the basket against the Pistons in 1989.

Andrew D. Bernstein / NBA Photos

The Jordan Rules

It’s fair to say there’s no love lost between Jordan and the late ‘80s Pistons, whose notorious “Jordan Rules” basically meant beating up the Bulls star anytime he drove toward the basket. “I don’t know how he came out of it alive,” former Lakers star James Worthy says in Episode 3.

“Oh, I hated them. That hate carries even to this day,” Jordan says of those Detroit teams. “They made it personal. They physically beat the s--t out of us.”

After losing Game 7 of the 1990 East Finals, Jordan resolved to get stronger.

“I was getting brutally beaten up. And I want to administer pain,” Jordan said in Episode 4. “I want to start fighting back.”

Rodman’s Vegas Vacation

After Scottie Pippen returned in January 1998, Rodman sought out Jordan to tell him he needed a vacation. “When Dennis wants to tell me something, I know it’s not something that I’ll f—king want to hear,” MJ says in Episode 3.

Rodman told Jordan that he needed a vacation, and that he wanted to go to Las Vegas.

“People don’t understand, it’s not just basketball that we have to deal with on this team. It’s the pressure of the bulls--t,” a younger Rodman says in separate footage from the Bulls’ locker room. “I’ll play the game for free, but you get paid for the bulsh--t after you leave the floor.”

The team gave Rodman 48 hours, which he proceeded to blow past while partying.

“He didn’t come back on time, we had to go get his ass out of bed,” Jordan said. “And I’m not gonna say what was in his bed or where he was.”

Doug Collins out, Phil Jackson in

While they’d soon go on to win six NBA championships, Jordan initially wasn’t happy when the Bulls installed Jackson as head coach in replace of Collins. Jordan had been close to Collins, and he knew that Jackson intended to implement the triangle offense, which would spread the ball around more often.

“I wasn’t a Phil Jackson fan when he first came in,” Jordan says in Episode 4. “He was coming in to take the ball out of my hands. Doug put the ball in my hands.”

Jackson’s plan elevated many of Jordan’s teammates, including Pippen, who said the new coach’s “approach was more catered to the team.” It would soon pay off.

The Pistons walk off the court

When the Bulls finally took down Detroit in the 1991 East Finals, the Pistons walked off before the game was over. In one of the documentary’s more testy moments thus far, Jordan is shown recent footage of Thomas explaining why the Pistons did nothing wrong that night.

“Well I know it’s all bulls--t,” Jordan says before even hearing the explanation. “Whatever he says now you know it wasn’t his true actions then.”

“You can show me anything you want. There’s no way you’re going to convince he wasn’t an as---ole.”

Jordan noted that he shook hands with the Pistons each time they beat the Bulls. “There’s a certain respect to the game that we paid to them,” Jordan said. “That’s sportsmanship, no matter how much it hurts.”

And then there was Horace Grant: “Straight up b---hes. That’s what they walked off like. [Laughs] Now we just kicked your ass, go ahead, go.”

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