Death Grip to Swollen Forehead – 9 Years After Facing Pistons Brutality, Michael Jordan and Co. Landed in Yet Another Intense Battle

Published 10/02/2023, 8:51 AM EDT

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Some rivalries within the world of the NBA are more than about sporting fixtures, and they generate intensive competition, hot exchanges, and exciting memories. One such rivalry is etched in the hearts of basketball fans: the legendary struggle between Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons in the late 1980s and early 1990s, often referred to as “Jordan Rules”.
Jump ahead almost ten years from those heated battles and you’d be mistaken to say that intensity has gone down. How brutally the Pistons tried to curtail Jordan’s control! However, it’s not just a nostalgia trip. It’s an incredible narrative of blending the past with the recent altercation between Alonzo Mourning, Dennis Rodman, and Scottie Pippen.

The ‘Jordan Rules’ Revisited A Clash of Eras

Those were the “Jordan Rules,” a daring plan that originated in the bowels of Piston’s creativity back in 1988, aimed to stymie the brilliance of Michael Jordan. The game was an unabashed ballet of basketball with constant physicality, doubles teams and some doubtful sportsmen’s behavior.

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With unrelenting tenacity, coach Chuck Daly’s Pistons made up their minds to stop the renowned player at all costs, and they indeed achieved just that. The intense competition set new benchmarks and etched unforgettable moments in history.

Cut forward to a certain day in the latter ‘90s, and we again experienced a new act of tension. When it came to a head, a duel of the titans, Alonzo Mourning and Dennis Rodman were drawn into a fight that harkened back to years gone by. History would remember Mourning’s headlock, Rodman’s “death grip,” and the ensuing tumble down.

The Chicago Bulls were furious and this confrontation was reminiscent of their wars with the Pistons. The dry humour from Phil Jackson underscored how intense it was and the forehead bump from Scottie Pippen showed how serious the exchange had been.

Foreheads Swell and Tempers Flare Mourning, Rodman, and Pippen’s Fiery Altercation

But the fight on the court was not simply a physical thing. It was also about solidarity, the feeling of sticking up for each other. As Mourning’s elbow hit Pippen in the face, Pippen termed it, “a cheap shot”. All the Bulls stood together as one close family when the fallen heroes were needed. Jordan’s comments touched everybody. It’s time for the family to unite when one of their own is chosen for bullying or mockery.
The body took its toll; there were swollen foreheads, a reminder that in the game of basketball, passion is passion. This was further evident in the fight against the old rivalries and new enemies as they showed the spirit of competition that characterizes the NBA. But it was also a vivid memory that, no matter how old they are Jordan rules or present-day struggles -, the very essence of basketball is tenacious and resolute at every facet.

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Captivatingly, in this past and present conflict, we saw the essential beauty of ball play when rivals rage, leaving on record, from the ashes of one defeat, a champion forever.



Written by:

Abhinav Tomar


One take at a time

Abhinav Singh Tomar is an NBA author at EssentiallySports. He translates his love for the game into captivating coverage. A true hoop enthusiast and a fan of all sports, he brings the court to life with his insightful writing skills.
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Edited by:

Caroline Joseph




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