Dennis Rodman’s wild-child ways are the stuff of basketball legend and were laid bare by former teammate Michael Jordan as he delved into the Chicago Bulls’ championship-winning 1997-98 season.
Rodman is famed as one of sport’s most colorful characters, enjoying a string of high-profile relationships with the likes of Baywatch siren Carmen Electra and pop icon Madonna before bizarrely befriending North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a post-career foray into international diplomacy.
The tattooed former star’s partying exploits were at the center of attention in the latest episodes of smash-hit ESPN series The Last Dance, which charts the Bulls’ quest for a second ‘three-peat’ in the 97-98 season as one of basketball’s most iconic teams stood on the verge of being broken up.
Central to that success was forward Rodman, who stepped up to show his value for the team as a rebounding colossus while Jordan’s star sidekick Scottie Pippen missed the first 35 games of the season through injury.
But the return of Pippen led to the exuberant Rodman feeling overworked and underappreciated, to the extent that he requested a mid-season break from Bulls coach Phil Jackson.
Jackson duly relented and allowed Rodman a 48-hour break in Las Vegas – setting alarm bells ringing with Jordan, who revealed he was wary of letting his notoriously party-hungry teammate off the leash with the season ongoing.
“I say, ‘Look Phil, let me tell you something man, if anybody needs a f*cking vacation, I need a vacation,’” Jordan said in Sunday’s episode of The Last Dance.
“We look at Dennis and say, ‘Dennis, what are you going to do?’ He says, ‘Well, I need to go to Vegas’.
“[I said] ‘Phil, you let this dude go on vacation, we’re not going to see him. You let him go to Vegas, we’re definitely not going to see him’.
“I’m looking at Phil like, ‘You ain’t going to get that dude back in 48 hours, I don’t care what you say.’”
Jordan’s concerns proved well founded as Rodman duly flouted the deadline to stay in Sin City several days longer than agreed, hitting nightclub after nightclub with friends and then-girlfriend Carman Electra.
“It was on, the party was started right away,” Electra told the ESPN series.
“It was definitely an occupational hazard being Dennis’ girlfriend. He was wild.”
Even when he had returned to Chicago, Rodman refused to head back to training, instead holing himself up at his apartment across the street from the Bulls’ home stadium, the United Center.
Jordan revealed that when was he decided to take matters into his own hands.
“He didn’t come back on time, we had to get his ass out of bed,” Jordan said.
“I’m not going to say what was in his bed, where he was, blah blah blah.”
Electra suggested she may even have been in the room at the time of the raid by the angry Jordan, recalling one such situation.
“There’s a knock on the door, it’s Michael Jordan, and I hid,” Electra said.
“I didn’t want him to see me like that so I’m hiding behind the couch with covers over me.”
The Last Dance director Jason Hehir also revealed that Jordan told him off camera that he had grabbed Rodman by his nose ring in his efforts to coerce him back to training.
Rodman and the Bulls finally got the show back on the road, powering to the 97-98 championship and sealing their sixth title in the space of a decade.
Rodman, 58, continued his colorful antics even after formally retiring in 2006, paying visits to North Korea to see his “friend” Kim Jong-un in what he said were efforts to “smooth” relations between the two countries.