Pat Riley needed just four games to see enough.
At the time, Riley was the coaching the Miami Heat against the Chicago Bulls in the 1997 Eastern Conference finals. The Bulls were ahead 3-1 when things reached a boil between Heat center Alonzo Mourning and Bulls forward Dennis Rodman. Both players were fined $5,000 for tussling in the fourth quarter of the Heat's lone victory in the series.
When asked about Mourning's rough play, Riley pointed the finger at Rodman.
“I think he’s ridiculous,” Riley told reporters at the time. “The most ridiculous thing to ever come along in the game. Ever. He’s a menace, he really is. He’s a character. He goes beyond just physical play. He’s become a sideshow. And it has nothing to do with being ‘inside anyone’s head.’ He hit ‘Zo in the head with an elbow. That’s not getting inside someone’s head. That’s trying to hurt someone.”
Rodman was again at the forefront last weekend when Michael Jordan's ESPN documentary, "The Last Dance," shifted focus to the Bulls' acquiring one of the league's greatest rebounders and instigators. Rodman had plenty run-ins with Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone during his Bulls tenure but none were intense as Mourning.
The two scuffled throughout the conference finals. A few months later, Rodman again got the best of Mourning in a regular season game in Chicago. It was then when Jordan admitted Rodman was solely out to win the mental battle versus Mourning.
"Dennis takes great pride getting into Alonzo's head," Michael Jordan said at the time. "Dennis makes it a challenge to see if he can go out there and get him out of his game."
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