Hands now, Dennis Rodman had the duality of being one of the most accomplished and entertaining basketball players on the planet.
A five-time NBA champion, Rodman won two NBA Finals with the Bad Boy-era Detroit Pistons with Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars and won three rings with Chicago Bulls teammates, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen during the Bulls’ second three-peat guided by head coach Phil Jackson.
Jackson got Rodman to buy into his philosophy. “Phil Jackson was a master of managing personalities,” former Bulls forward, Jason Caffey told me via text message.
“He controlled Dennis by not attempting to control him. Read that twice!”
Rodman and Jackson had chemistry.
Jackson was a player’s coach and he also played the game. Jackson played 12 seasons in the NBA. The power forward won NBA championships with the New York Knicks in 1970 and 1973.
Jackson later became head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 to 1998 and led Chicago to six NBA championships. The Zen Master then coached the Los Angeles Lakers from 1999 to 2004 and again from 2005 to 2011. During Jackson’s tenure in Los Angeles, the Lakers won five NBA championships under his leadership.
For those keeping score at home: Jackson’s 11 NBA titles as a coach surpassed the previous record of nine set by Red Auerbach.
Jackson also holds the NBA record for the most combined championships, winning a total of 13 as a player and a coach.
That’s a big deal!
After Rodman’s time with the Bulls, he found his way on the Los Angeles Lakers before Jackson got there. Former Laker, John Celestand appeared on a recent episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast and shared how much Rodman and Jackson were two peas in a pod. “Dennis Rodman was playing on the team a year before and remember that wasn’t the best Dennis Rodman of his career when he played for the Lakers,” said Celestand.
“I was hearing how dysfunctional the locker room was, but I think the adjustment was that Phil was not as much as a hands-on coach as he was a manager and his whole thing was kind of breaking everything back down and getting us to learn how to play basketball and to be one as a team. And you gotta remember now, he’s bringing a whole new offense. So for me, it put me on an equal footing with everybody else because I didn’t have to come in and learn the offense that they all knew.”