‘A wonderful waltz’ — ‘Dance’ is over, Phil and Scottie hint at rally

Read the Sun-Times’ original story from the day of the Bulls’ sixth championship celebration at Grant Park.

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The Bulls hold their championship trophies at a celebration in Grant Park for the 1998 title.

Antonio Dickey/AP Photo, City of Chicago

Originally published June 16, 1998.

MichaelJordantried to leave open a crack in the door. Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen all but slammed it shut. And Dennis?

He came within an orange-green hair’s breadth of proposing marriage to his teammates.

”I’ve always told myself I’d never get married,” Rodman said, looking back at his teammates seated onstage at the Petrillo Music Shell this morning. “If I had to marry anybody, it’d be these 12 guys right here.”

The estimated 300,000 Bulls fans who crammed into Grant Park to toast their heroes’ sixth championship in eight years yearned and prayed for the words “We’ll be back.”

They even tried drowning outMichaelJordan’s words at the podium with chants of “One more year!”

What they got were some heartfelt thanks from the Bulls for a decade of unyielding support from Chicago, and a bittersweet realization that maybe, just maybe, this magnificent dance on top of the mountain has wound to a close.

”This was our last dance,” Phil Jackson told the crowd, “and it was a wonderful waltz.”

Jordantalked of a desire to “share this type of excitement in the city of Chicago again.” Pippen, however, spoke plainly: “Thank you for our last dance.”

Knowing a Bulls breakup looms around the bend made it doubly important for fans like Paul Birger of Mount Prospect to endure endless lines at 4:15 a.m. to get a seat in front of the music shell.

”Maybe they’ll be back, maybe they won’t — but I didn’t want to risk it,” said Birger, 44, a firefighter with the Des Plaines Fire Department. “This is such a special group. It’s such an unselfish team.”

Some fans showed up at Grant Park as early as 3 a.m. to ensure they got a seat in the pavilion in front of the music shell. Others settled for a shoulder-to-shoulder spot on the field and a view of a Jumbotron TV erected to broadcast what was happening on stage.

That most of the crowd was crammed into the field beyond the pavilion didn’t seem to matter. Many fans had never been to a Bulls game_this was their chance to pay homage toJordanin person, even if it meant doing it from 300 yards away.

”This is a big day,” said Carlos Medina of Cicero, who brought with him an airbrushed poster ofMichaelJordancostumed in Superman garb. “This is a day for people who can’t afford to buy tickets.”

Medina said he took the day off from his job at Amtrak to attend the rally: “I figured they would understand, and they did.”

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