Remembering when the Rodman-Malone NBA Finals Feud in 1998 led to a WCW match

 
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2018 5:05 pm    Post subject: Remembering when the Rodman-Malone NBA Finals Feud in 1998 led to a WCW match

I honestly don't remember this imagine if Twitter existed back then

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2771950-remembering-when-the-rodman-malone-nba-finals-feud-in-1998-led-to-a-wcw-match

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Remembering When the Rodman-Malone NBA Finals Feud in 1998 Led to a WCW Match





On the Monday morning after the Chicago Bulls had defeated the Utah Jazz 96-54 in Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals to take a 2-1 lead, it was business as usual. The Bulls were two wins away from defeating the Jazz in the Finals for the second straight season. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson were about to complete their second three-peat. For Jordan, Pippen and Jackson, it would be their sixth championship in eight seasons.

The Bulls were scheduled for a team film session followed by media availability, which the NBA mandated. When media members arrived to speak with players, Rodman was not at the United Center. Jackson was unperturbed, joking that the NBA would fine Rodman for missing the session and reminding him through the media that practice was at 10:30 a.m. the following day.


The Bulls had gotten used to Rodman's antics, which they accepted as part of the deal in exchange for his providing a defensive presence and being a dominant force on the boards. In March 1996, Rodman headbutted referee Ted Bernhardt in a game against the New Jersey Nets and received a six-game suspension. In January 1997, Rodman kicked a cameraman in the groin during a game in Minnesota and was suspended 11 games. In January 1998, Rodman missed a shootaround and the team sent him home.

But this one would top them all. Rodman had taken the day off. He was scheduled to fly to Auburn Hills, Michigan, to appear on WCW's Monday Nitro as a member of the New World Order ("NWO") to start a feud with Karl Malone, the player he'd face in the Finals. While WCW had not yet made that storyline public, it had set a main event for its July 1998 Bash at the Beach pay-per-view in July, a month after the Finals. It would be a tag team match pitting Hulk Hogan and Rodman against Malone and Diamond Dallas Page.

Growing up, Malone was a huge fan of professional wrestling. "He told me he never wanted to be a basketball player growing up," Page told B/R. "He wanted to be a wrestler."

Page and Malone became close friends after a chance meeting earlier in the 1997-98 season in Houston. Page was in attendance at a Rockets-Jazz game, sitting about 20 rows up from courtside. During a timeout, he looked over at the Jazz bench and saw Malone forming a diamond shape by joining the thumb and index finger on both hands and flashing Page's famous "Diamond Cutter" sign at him. After another stoppage in play, the two made eye contact and Malone once again flashed him the Diamond Cutter.


The two arranged to meet after the game and made plans to hang out in New York at All-Star Weekend that season. Page had heard from WCW boss Eric Bischoff that Rodman, who had wrestled at a pay-per-view the year before as a member of the NWO, was planning to make a return to the ring. He pitched an idea to Bischoff: a tag team match with himself and Malone against Hogan and Rodman.

Bischoff didn't warm up to the idea right away. But after Malone dominated the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, averaging 30.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists in a sweep, Bischoff could see the appeal of a Rodman-Malone match.

Bischoff called Page and told him it was time to get a deal done with Malone. "Next thing you know, Bischoff and I were in a private Learjet flying to Salt Lake City," Page said. When Malone heard the idea, he made it clear that he didn't want to be a celebrity referee like Mike Tyson had just months earlier at the main event at Wrestlemania. "He wanted to actually get in the ring and wrestle," Page said.


WCW scheduled the main event for July 12, 1998, at the Cox Arena in San Diego and arranged a promotional tour following the NBA Finals, which would include appearances for Rodman and Malone on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and on WCW's flagship Monday Nitro. Except: Rodman was only available during the Finals on an off day.

On the Monday after Chicago's Game 3 win, Rodman appeared on Nitro, where he took part in several segments over the course of the three-hour show. At one point, Hogan said to Rodman, "Rodzilla, love the way you throw Malone around," referencing how the two power forwards were battling each other in the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year. Later, Hogan joked that this event definitely was worth Rodman missing practice. Rodman's evening ended with delivering several chair shots to Page. He then took a private plane back to Chicago.


While the media was in an uproar over the incident, Dwight Manley, Rodman's agent at the time, said recently that Jackson and general manager Jerry Krause had given Rodman full permission to make the trip to Detroit for his Nitro appearance. "Behind the scenes, Jerry and Phil gave their blessing," Manley said. "But certain writers chose to make a controversy out of it."

The NBA fined Rodman $10,000 for missing his mandated media availability. The Bulls did not discipline their power forward. For Bob Costas, who covered the 1998 NBA Finals for NBC, it was another example of Jackson playing things perfectly when it came to Rodman's off-court distractions.

"Phil Jackson played it exactly right," Costas said. "He had everyone, including Jordan and Pippen, on board, and the message was, 'Look, if this happened in the regular season, maybe we suspend him. But we need this guy to win a championship, so we're going to express our disapproval mildly, but we're not going to put our championship chances in jeopardy.' It was the right approach."

Manley, who had negotiated a back-end incentive deal with WCW based on pay-per-view buys for the Rodman-Malone main event, enjoyed the additional coverage of Rodman's appearance on Nitro. "It only made it better," Manley said. "Dennis is the personification of any news is good news. Bad media is good media."




NBC's broadcast briefly mentioned the incident at the start of Game 4 of the NBA Finals, and then it was back to business as usual. The news of Rodman and Malone's wrestling match—only a month away—was becoming public. In the third quarter during Game 6, the game many basketball fans remember for Jordan's iconic Finals-clinching shot over Bryon Russell, Rodman and Malone got tangled up on the court, with Rodman drawing a technical foul after tripping Malone.


During the chaos, Costas, who was calling the game for NBC, quipped: "He and Karl Malone, regrettably, are scheduled to wrestle in one of those bogus events next month. Why Malone wants to lower himself to that is anyone's guess, and Rodman apparently wants to start wrestling now."

"The reporters didn't respect our s--t," Page said. "But I didn't give a s--t. We were on the road 275 days a year. The toll of one main event match for me would be like a normal person being in five automobile accidents. Not one, not two, not three, not four. Five. There were guys who got it. The guys who got it, they respected what we did."

"I had been a wrestling fan for much of my life," Costas said. "But the tone [in wrestling], especially at that time, had gone from good-natured to something darker.

If there was anyone who respected professional wrestlers, it was Malone. After the Finals, he flew to the Power Plant—WCW's training facility in Atlanta—where he trained regularly with Page to prepare for the match. "He was a natural," Page said. "I just showed him how to do wrestling moves, and how to do them without killing the other guy, and how to take a bump, how to land on your back." The first time Malone tried taking a bump, actually taking a slam and falling on his back in the ring, it knocked the wind out of him.

The main event ended up drawing a 1.50 buyrate, the highest of any WCW pay-per-view event that year. The actual match lasted 23 minutes. Of the two, Malone was definitely the more active participant.





Malone bodyslammed Hogan and Rodman during the match and executed Page's finishing move, also called the Diamond Cutter, on Hogan. Officially, Rodman and Hogan won the match, thanks to interference from NWO member The Disciple. Malone got his money's worth, though.

After the match, he stomped around the ring, upset with the result, and eventually landed another Diamond Cutter, this time on the referee, to the applause of the crowd.

From a financial standpoint, the main event was a success. According to Scott Levy, who wrestled as Raven at the time for WCW and now hosts the wrestling podcast The Raven Effect, no one was particularly bothered that two professional athletes took up a main event slot, as long as they sold tickets and pay-per-view buys.

"It was so stupid and so out of place," Levy said. "But it was good for the company. It added to our paychecks, and that's all that mattered."

Following the match, some discussed continuing the Rodman-Malone rivalry. Manley believes that would have happened if not for two things. The NBA lockout at the start of the 1998-99 season made Rodman a free agent, increasing the precariousness of participating in wrestling and risking injury. And Rodman signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, so his matchup with Malone was no longer a mainstream draw.

Years later, there are those who still wonder what was in it for Malone. "I understood why Dennis did it," Costas said. "But I didn't know what was in it for Karl, especially for someone who rarely drew attention to himself."


Manley, who says Rodman and Malone earned $1.5 million and $900,000 respectively for the main event, believes both had such a love for wrestling that they would have done it for free.

Levy said he knows why even the most successful professional athletes are attracted to the squared circle. "Because we're rock stars," Levy said. "We're athletic. We act and do our own stunts. We hold the crowd in the palm of our hands. Who doesn't want that?"
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wolfpaclaker
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:20 pm    Post subject:

I remember this vividly
Can’t believe it’s been 20 years!
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Mamba mentality will live on forever
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panamaniac
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:25 pm    Post subject:

This was likely WCWs response to Mike Tyson's highly successful stint in WWE. 90s wrasslin was dope.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:53 pm    Post subject:

Yeah I remember the stint on WCW. Entertaining.
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lakersken80
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 7:00 pm    Post subject:

Costas is and was always an uppity douche.
That being said 80's and 90's wrasslin' was entertaining.....the product today sucks in comparison.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:21 pm    Post subject:

lakersken80 wrote:
Costas is and was always an uppity douche.
That being said 80's and 90's wrasslin' was entertaining.....the product today sucks in comparison.

WWE's roster is stacked with talent but Vince doesn't know how to use them. The only thing great about WWE is NXT and 205 Live.
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panamaniac
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:19 pm    Post subject:

Lakerfan 4 Life wrote:
lakersken80 wrote:
Costas is and was always an uppity douche.
That being said 80's and 90's wrasslin' was entertaining.....the product today sucks in comparison.

WWE's roster is stacked with talent but Vince doesn't know how to use them. The only thing great about WWE is NXT and 205 Live.


He's also got incompetent people in important positions, like his son in law Triple eychah
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:46 pm    Post subject:

The great thing about wrestling in the 80's and 90's was the existence of the WCW to provide some much needed competition to the WWF...with that gone, the storylines have stagnated and lets face it, the threat of the competition was the huge factor in why they had creative storylines and got talent from outside of the wrestling world interested in being part of the show. You may not have been a wrestling fan, but someone like Mike Tyson showing up at some arena in Fresno got the WWF attention in the sports world and highlights on ESPN.
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 5:29 pm    Post subject:

https://www.sbnation.com/wrestling/21262448/dennis-rodman-nwo-wcw-bulls-jazz-nba-finals-1998

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Dennis Rodman’s role in the nWo, explained

A weird chapter in NBA and wrestling history, all in one.


Depending on your age there was no better era in professional wrestling than the late 1990s, but even if you disagree with that statement it’s undeniable that the nWo (New World Order) was the coolest faction in the business. It transcended wrestling and took over popular culture in a way wrestling hadn’t before, or since.

On Sunday night The Last Dance touched on Dennis Rodman’s involvement in the group, which became so engrossing that he skipped practice during the NBA Finals to ensure he could be ready to perform in the ring in 1998.

What was the nWo?
In the mid-late 1990s a battle was brewing between the incumbent face of professional wrestling the WWF (now WWE) and WCW. Owned by Ted Turner, WCW took its roots from traditional southern wrestling, but largely failed to gain a major foothold in the ratings. In an attempt to make the company successful, Turner and WCW opened its wallet and began giving out absurdly large contracts to some of WWF’s biggest stars to make them jump ship, also making these contracts guaranteed — which was unheard on in the business.

From 1994-98 WCW signed the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Macho Man Randy Savage, Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), Diesel (Kevin Nash), and countless others. This alone wasn’t enough to propel WCW past WWF, but what came next was.

Hall and Nash jumping ship broke down professional wrestling’s venerated fourth wall, trashing their former company in the process. Arriving like a street gang, the nWo used guerrilla tactics and violence to “take over” WCW, and were so convincing fans were left wondering whether the angle was a reflection of real life. For two months Hall and Nash disrupted WCW, all while teasing the near arrival of a “third man,” an architect working behind the scenes to orchestrate the WCW takeover, which was revealed to be none other than Hulk Hogan.

The image of Hogan leg dropping his long-time friend Macho Man Randy Savage is burned in the minds of wrestling fans. The All-American super hero became the biggest villain in the wrestling world, and this was the catalyst for the nWo’s rise to prominence. Hogan, Nash and Hall were the perfect trio, and made it not only okay to like professional wrestling — but cool.

Numbers have never been officially revealed, but it’s been purported that over 16 million nWo shirts were sold in 1997 alone. This phenomenon was bigger than wrestling, and soon everybody, inside of wrestling and out, wanted to be a part of the nWo.

Dennis Rodman’s role.
With momentum on their side, WCW wanted to capitalize on pushing the nWo into the mainstream as quickly as possible. This included enlisting the help of celebrities to promote the brand, and the nWo’s devil-may-care attitude aligned perfectly with Rodman’s off-court personality.

The summer of 1998 was the perfect time for WCW to pull the trigger on a massive WCW/NBA crossover event. Rodman, who was in the middle of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, took his role with the nWo so seriously he flew from Chicago to Detroit to appear on Monday Nitro live, in the middle of the series.

Rodman going to a professional wrestling event in the middle of a NBA Finals series seems absolutely ludicrous, but his Bulls teammates knew that was just part of the give-and-take with having Rodman on the team. Steve Kerr explained on The Last Dance that while it wasn’t uncommon for Rodman, it was a sign the Bulls were falling apart:

“We sort of understood he was his own man. He did so much for the team, but to do it during the Finals, that was another indication this was all coming to an end.

It’s unclear if Rodman’s decision to skip practice led to him coming off the bench in Game 4, but it didn’t make much of a difference. Even entering the game in a rotational role Rodman played 30 minutes and finished with 14 rebounds.

After the NBA Finals (which the Bulls won), WCW hyped up the promise of a Rodman/Malone rematch — this time inside a ring. At the Bash at the Beach pay per view in July the pair would face off in a tag team match that featured Hogan and Rodman teaming up to face Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone. The nWo ultimately won in the main event, and Rodman would not appear in a ring for another year, when he returned in 1999 and lost to Macho Man Randy Savage.

While the goal was to make the nWo transcend the world of wrestling and garner more appeal than ever, putting guys like Rodman in the faction is viewed as the moment the nWo “jumped the shark,” and took the luster away from the once-great group.

The downfall of the nWo.
There are numerous factors that led to the demise of the nWo as the premiere wrestling faction, but it ultimately comes down to being crushed until its own weight and mismanagement. WCW used the nWo as a story tool to rotate dozens of stars through to make them popular, eventually splintering the group into multiple rival factions including the red and black of the nWo Wolfpack, and the “Latino World Order,” which was led by legendary wrestler Eddie Guerrero. Eventually fans lost interest, there was too much rapid change and illogical story, with behind the scenes infighting tearing not only the nWo, but WCW as a whole apart.

More bad decisions led to the death of the company, and in 2001 WCW was sold to Vince McMahon and the WWE. Attempts to revive the nWo have been made in the years since, but never managed to capture fans the way the original iteration did. Now a relic of a bygone era, the nWo of 1996-98 remains the most compelling era in professional wrestling, not only in terms of the larger WCW vs. WWF feud — but how it pushed the industry away from the comic book style characters of the 1980s and early 90s, instead putting more “real people” on screens that fans could identify with.

Without the nWo it’s unlikely we ever would have seen the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin and countless others. Dennis Rodman is a part of that legacy, and deciding to skip out of practicing for the NBA Finals allowed it.
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