The Knicks hit the links and the Bulls go to the final of the Eastern Conference. Observations:
A great series for Dennis Rodman
This series felt like Dennis Rodman’s full experience and was delightful. In terms of production, he averaged 15.6 rebounds (4.8 offensives) and two game swinging assists in five games to finish Game 4 at The Garden. As a team, the bulls were +39 on the boards (win the offensive glass 84-45) in the series.
In the clincher, Rodman scored 11 points and 12 rebounds – relatively pedestrian by his standards. Still, it was omnipresent, a limb whirlwind that transformed into every rebound crush, the passing lane, and the screen set. His boast and unbridled enjoyment of the game could also be seen:
I enjoy Dennis Rodman̵7;s childish excitement every time he shoots a basket. He was so good in his role and played it well. When he could do something else, he was thrilled. It’s both fun and funny to see #BullsRewind #The worm pic.twitter.com/9zpsXH0IpW
– Kevin Schwartz (@kschwoCHI) March 31, 2020
And then Dennis points to Bavetta after pulling the loose ball foul to say, “Do you understand that correctly?” 😂
So much joy. #bullsrewind
– Matt Peck (@Bulls_Peck) March 31, 2020
Each foul call (there were six in this plus an ejection) performed well. Every bump in a Knicks player triggered subtle retaliation. And every step he took was greeted with loud cheers from the local crowd. Chicago really loved Rodman and he earned it every time he stepped on the floor.
It all culminated in a litany of Dennis peak moments in the fourth quarter. A little more than four minutes to play, he jumped down the floor and into Luc Longley’s arms after Longley Dunk, whom he supported, brought the Bulls to 13. Moments later, he finally sealed the game with a layup for a similar celebration (that’s when Ron Harper got the hug).
And the Coups de Gras: about a minute before the game ended, he picked up a suspect second technician (which led to an expectoration) after committing a sixth personal foul. A fiery exit and a passionate jersey lining in the frenzied UC booths crowned it. All in one day’s work for The Worm. His development from a wild rival to a beloved antihero is really something to see.
Seeing Pippen hugging Rodman with the bulls right there in Rodman’s first season is still a little crazy. Only 5 years later, Rodman shoved Pippen into a wicker support.
The takeover by Krause and assimilation by Jackson and teammates from Rodman is a big story of 3peat
– K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 31, 2020
Unfortunately NBC Sports Chicago could not get the role of “Walk of Shame” of this game, but we are sure that after this game it was more fun than ever.
“Playing in the mud”
That was Tom Dore’s words at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and boy, were they appropriate? For this game and the entire series.
In the mid-1990s, Bulls-Knicks seemed to be a recipe for slog. A fist fight in which all strikes are played around the midrange and wild elbows. Only once in a series did a team reach 100 points (the Knicks in Game 3). In this case, the Knicks hit their first 3-pointer with just under a minute remaining in the third quarter (2:13 total).
Man, how have times changed:
It’s incredible to hear how Tom Dore consistently calls normal midfielders “long-range” shots. #BullsRewind
– Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) March 31, 2020
But in the end, this series is another whooping cough, in which the Knicks looked demoralized in the end. The cops’ boast is simply second to none. We’ve detailed Rodman’s individual exploits, but there really is a collective sense of inevitability when this team gets rolling, like in the second half of this game. Somehow, Michael Jordan’s 36-point average on this series felt under the radar, but he was able to seemingly tear New York’s heart out of a whim.
And beyond the players, this team’s energy seemed to seep into the city around them. At some point in the game, the cameras panned to a fan-posted title ticker on the UC wall and counted down the number of remaining wins until another Bulls Championship. “Another bites the dust,” boomed as the Knicks strolled away defeated. From a distance it is obvious that this dynasty was an urban effort.
And another jewel from the late series by Johnny “Red” Kerr:
“The cops are trying to send the Knicks to play golf tomorrow … The cops could also play golf.”
Johnny “Red” Kerr is an absolute gem #BullsRewind
– Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) March 31, 2020
Until then, Knickerbockers.
Jordan (35 points, 5 assists) and Pippen (15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 steals) remain absolutely ridiculous. And Ron Harper, who filled in an impressive 12, is still one of my biggest personal revelations from that rewind. Couldn’t write this whole post without screaming her nights.
We had a sad, then animated, then sad Spike Lee, who appeared several times in this film. You just have to respect the grind.
Seriously. Bring back the classic Bulls intro theme. I will never ask for anything again.
– Punch Drunk Pat (@MidwayPat) March 31, 2020
See you on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. Magic.
Until April 15, NBC Sports Chicago will broadcast the entire 1996 NBA Bulls Championship run every other night. The full schedule can be found here.
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