Dennis Rodman Defends Michael Jordan and 'The Last Dance,' Claims Bulls Players Weren't 'Mentally Strong Enough'

Dennis Rodman has defended Michael Jordan against some of the criticism he has received in the wake of The Last Dance, suggesting some of their former teammates were not mentally strong enough to deal with MJ's ferocious will to win.

Rodman was a key member of the Chicago Bulls that won three consecutive NBA titles between 1996 and 1998 and featured prominently in ESPN's 10-part documentary chronicling Jordan's final season with the Bulls.

While the show has received almost universal acclaim and has proved a hit with the audience, it has been criticised for telling Jordan's story exclusively from his point of view.

Horace Grant, who was part of the Bulls team that won the franchise's first three-peat between 1991 and 1993 suggested the documentary was edited to make Jordan look better.

Scottie Pippen, Jordan's trusted lieutenant during the Bulls' six titles, was also said to be unhappy at his portrayal in the documentary.

Rodman admitted his teammates occasionally felt like they were being harshly treated by Jordan during his playing days, but defended the documentary and felt the criticism was not warranted.

"The players were a little upset because they felt Michael was throwing them under the bus," Rodman said on Thursday morning during an appearance on British TV show Good Morning Britain.

"[Jordan said] 'You guys wasn't doing what I want you to do, I'm the greatest, I'm determined to win no matter what.'"

Rodman then expanded his belief that some of his teammates felt slighted by Jordan's criticism because they weren't mentally strong enough to cope with his boundless competitive drive.

"The next thing you know Michael starts to talking about the whole team ... the team-mates I played with," he continued.

"Mentally I don't think they were strong enough to handle that, because Phil Jackson is a laid back coach. Michael is more like, 'I'm going to do it watch me be famous.'

"I didn't care because I was already famous."

As the documentary showed, Rodman was among the selected few Jordan seemingly granted special treatment. Episode 3 and 4 of The Last Dance delved into one of Rodman's famous off court incidents, when he was granted a 48-hour to escape to Las Vegas during the 1997-98 season.

True to form, the five-time NBA champion extended his foray in Sin City beyond the agreed time before returning to Chicago. By the time his mini-break had reached its fourth day, Jordan had to fetch his teammate out of the Chicago apartment Rodman shared with then-girlfriend Carmen Electra.

Jordan had initially convinced then-head coach Phil Jackson to let Rodman go and was surprisingly magnanimous with his teammate when he eventually returned.

"He didn't really pull me on that because I had already that will to win because I came from winners in Detroit and San Antonio," the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year added.

Rodman is the most prominent former Bulls player to publicly defend Jordan, who was criticized earlier this week by Grant.

During an interview with ESPN 1000's Kap and Co radio show on Tuesday, Grant said "90 percent of the documentary was b******t" and that it had been edited to make Jordan look better.

A day later, David Kaplan, the host of Kap and Co, said Pippen was "beyond livid" at his portrayal in the documentary.

"He [Pippen] is so angry at Michael [Jordan] and how he was portrayed, called selfish, called this, called that, that he's furious that he participated and did not realize what he was getting himself into," he said.

Notably, earlier this week Rodman praised Pippen and suggested The Last Dance had given the public a new understanding of his former teammate.

"Scottie was so underrated—and so underpaid. He should be holding his head up higher than Michael Jordan in this documentary," he told ESPN. "I think a lot of people are now realizing what he went through. The kid was a hero, in a lot of ways, during those great Bulls runs."

Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman
Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman, both of the Chicago Bulls, after Rodman was called for a technical foul during the second half of their NBA Eastern Conference semi-finals game against the Charlotte Hornets at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, on May 3, 1998. The Bulls won the game 83-70 to lead the series 1-0. Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty

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