Eric Bischoff Subtly Encouraged Dennis Rodman To ‘Rough It Up’ With Karl Malone During 1998 NBA Finals To Promote WCW
Eric Bischoff says he somewhat encouraged the scuffle between Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone during Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals because it would help sell their tag team match at WCW’s Bash At The Beach pay-per-view.
ESPN’s The Last Dance documentary has been one of the most popular talking points in the “quarantine era” of television, and one episode featured Dennis Rodman’s brief run in WCW. Rodman missed practice to appear on WCW Nitro, and ultimately worked a huge tag team match with Hulk Hogan against Karl Malone and DDP later that summer.
As it turns out, Bischoff and WCW had been planning this for some time, and Mark Madden recently revealed that WCW had “coordinated” the highly-publicized scuffle between Rodman and Malone during Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.
Bischoff recently spoke with TMZ Sports and confirmed the story, adding that he didn’t explicitly tell Rodman what to do but said he wouldn’t exactly be mad if something were to happen. Bischoff noted that he only spoke with Rodman about it and said he wanted to make sure it didn’t affect the outcome of the game itself.
“Now, what I said to Dennis – not to Karl – was, ‘Hey Dennis, if anything were to happen off-court while there’s a timeout, while there’s no gameplay. If you guys happen to rough it up a little bit at the sidelines, or look like you’re going to and establish that intent, so that the feud, if you will, between Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman is real, on a kind of a 360-degree basis, not just what happens on our television show, that wouldn’t piss me off at all.’”
“It was kind of subtle but clear, I guess … and I made sure with respect to my boss, Harvey Schiller at Turner Sports, and the NBA, I did it in a way to be a little bit hands-off and make sure it didn’t interrupt the gameplay.”
Bischoff went on to say that creating a moment like that, especially on a worldwide stage like the NBA Finals, was a “really satisfying” moment.