5 best quotes from Episodes 3 and 4 of ‘The Last Dance’

Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images /

“The Last Dance” is already heating up, so here are the five best quotes from Episodes 3 and 4 of the riveting docuseries on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls.

The beauty of The Last Dance is not just that it offers never-before-seen footage of the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, or that it overwhelms the viewer with Michael Jordan stories we’ve never heard before, but rather, where the stories are coming from.

Hearing MJ, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson, Dennis Rodman and the rest of the Bulls, media members and opponents from that time brings these stories to life in a way decades-old newspaper clippings just never could.

It’s informative for the younger generation of NBA fans that never got to fully appreciate Air Jordan in his prime, but even for those who were around for his reign in the ’80s and ’90s, hearing these stories firsthand from the GOAT and his teammates is still illuminating.

We’ve already covered the summary and reactions for this week, as well as five new things we learned, so just like we did for Episodes 1 and 2, and because The Last Dance is unedited and full of superb zingers, anecdotes and meme-able reactions, it’s time for the five best quotes from Episodes 3 and 4.

“Dennis Rodman was the f**k-up person. He just f**ks everything up.” — Gary Payton (Episode 3)

This standalone quote looks bad by itself, but Gary Payton, noted f**k-up person himself, is actually giving Dennis Rodman the utmost praise for the defensive havoc he wreaked he was on the court.

“He’s a pest, shutting down whoever he wanted to,” Payton continued. “It was always a challenge. He was one of them players that changed the game just by his presence.”

That indeed was the case, whether you’re talking about Rodman’s rise to prominence with the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons or his legendary three-year run with Jordan’s Bulls for their second three-peat.

ESPN’s 30 for 30 films like Bad Boys and Rodman: For Better or Worse already painted a thorough picture of Rodman’s troubled but ultimately sympathetic persona. But as “The Worm” talks about wanting to go out there and get his nose broken or get cut to feel the pain of that hustle in Episode 3’s opening minutes, the viewer couldn’t help but wonder if we were about to learn even more about one of the most enigmatic figures in NBA history (spoiler alert: we were).

“Go home, motherf**kers, go home.” — Michael Wilbon on what MJ was yelling after “The Shot” (Episode 3)

Everyone remembers “The Shot” against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989. They remember Jordan’s jab step to break free from two defenders, the way he hung in the air over Craig Ehlo before letting that jumper fly, how the ball rattled in between the rim and dropped, his elated, jumping fist pump, and the standing fist pumps that followed.

But nobody really remembers what Jordan was hollering that moment of triumph: “Go home, motherf**kers, go home!”

Bulls beat writer Sam Smith told an anecdote about how he and the other two beat writers had picked the Cavaliers to win that first-round playoff series — one picked Cavs in three games, one picked Cavs in four, one picked Cavs in five. Before Game 5, Jordan told them, “We took care of you, we took care of you, and we take care of you today.”

When he delivered with that iconic game-winner to end the series, he made sure that the Cavaliers — and everybody else who was against the Bulls — knew where they should go:


“I can compare Michael Jordan to nobody, because for him to survive that and still maintain that greatness, it’s very unparalleled.” — Dennis Rodman (Episode 3)

The younger generation might not understand how good the Bad Boys Pistons were or just how hard MJ and the Bulls had to work to finally get over that hump in the East. They were Jordan’s greatest challenge in his NBA career, the one team holding him back from joining the likes of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as true winners.

It’s not just that the Pistons were a good team with a strong defense though. No, they were absolutely brutal, physical enforcers who beat up the NBA’s best player and made his life hell.

“Oh, I hated them,” Jordan said. “The hate carries even to this day. They made it personal. They physically beat the s**t out of us.”

A young Rodman described them as a hockey team everyone wanted to watch fight. John Salley explained that Rick Mahorn taught him how to elbow and told him if he was going to hit somebody and get a foul called, that he should make it count.

In the ensuing montage of what can only be described as plays that would never fly in today’s NBA, it becomes clear just how incredible it was for Jordan’s Bulls to finally snatch the torch from Detroit in ’91.

Most people roll their eyes when they hear former NBA players talk about how soft the game is today, but when it comes to physicality and the Bad Boys Pistons, they’re absolutely right. It’s a good thing players are no longer allowed to take dangerous shots on their opponents anymore, but part of what made MJ’s rise to championship prominence was the Herculean, physical and mental endurance it took to get there.

“I seen a screaming devil. You make a mistake, he’s gonna scream at you, he’s gonna belittle you. He demands almost perfection. Man, when you see your leader working extremely hard in practice, you feel like, ‘Oh man, if I don’t give it my all, I shouldn’t be here.'” — Horace Grant (Episode 4)

The NBA was very invested in Michael Jordan’s image being nothing but positive, but the truth is, his insane competitive streak rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Jordan expected a lot from his teammates, especially as he realized how much he needed them to get past Detroit.

That translated to a much rougher approach to the 1989-90 season, but as bad as some of the stories were about Jordan berating his teammates, Horace Grant offered a different perspective with this honest quote.

Yes, MJ could be a dick. Yes, he expected near perfection. And yes, he would absolutely let you know if you weren’t giving your all. But he also always gave his all, which meant he never asked anything of his teammates that he wasn’t willing to do himself.

For those with a steely enough resolve to accept the rebukes and the yelling, and to realize he was doing it to make his teammates better, that brutal brand of leadership (which Kobe Bryant later adopted in his own career) wound up being pretty darn effective.

“Straight up bitches. That’s what they walked off like.” — Horace Grant (Episode 4)

Horace Grant summing up how the Pistons walked off the floor early as the Bulls were about to complete their sweep in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals is a living, breathing *chef’s kiss*.

Whether you side with Isiah Thomas and the Pistons (the Boston Celtics did something pretty similar to them when the torch was passed in the East) or Chicago (Jordan shook their hands in defeat the two years prior), Bill Laimbeer‘s decision to lead the two-time defending champions off the court without shaking the Bulls’ hands lives on in infamy to this day.

You can kind of see Thomas’ point about how that’s “just the way it was” back then, but to their throngs of critics, it was the moment that revealed the Pistons’ true colors. To Jordan, it just solidified his hatred for them and his elation to finally surpass them.

“Well I know that’s all bulls**t,” Jordan said, before even watching Thomas’ answer on video. “Whatever he says now, you know it wasn’t his true actions then. He’s had time enough to think about it, or the reaction of the public that’s kind of changed his perspective of it. You can show me anything you want, there’s no way you’re gonna convince me he wasn’t an a**hole.”

Some grudges, especially from that era of NBA basketball, just never die. As you can tell from Grant and Jordan’s quotes here, that’s definitely the case between the Bulls and Pistons.

dark. Next. 5 things we learned from Episodes 3-4 of The Last Dance