In Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Utah’s Karl Malone and Chicago’s Dennis Rodman had a brief scuffle that halted play. No punches. Mostly tumbling and tripping.
Self-righteous announcing dweeb Bob Costas pointed out that Malone would “regrettably” “lower himself” into participating in one of pro wrestling’s “bogus events” next month against Rodman.
Thanks for the publicity, Bob. You played right into World Championship Wrestling’s hands. (I worked for WCW from 1993-2000.)
That Game 6 was 6.14.98 in Salt Lake City. Chicago’s Michael Jordan won the game and the series on a memorable jump shot with 5.2 seconds left.
A month later, on 7.12.98, Malone teamed with Diamond Dallas Page vs. Rodman and Hollywood (nee Hulk) Hogan in the main event of WCW’s “Bash at the Beach” pay-per-view at San Diego. (Rodman and Hogan were victorious. You can’t spell “won” without nWo.)
That Game 6 scuffle was mandated by WCW. Malone and Rodman were asked to do something during the series to publicize their match. They did.
That’s right: WCW compromised the NBA Finals.
Those involved may deny it now, or “not remember.” But that’s absolutely true.
Wrestling was at its undisputed peak. Malone was a big-time mark. Rodman liked money and attention, and certainly put the time in. Rodman missed a mandatory media briefing during those NBA Finals to appear on WCW Monday Nitro at Auburn Hills, Mich. Rodman whacked DDP with a metal folding chair.
The PPV match was OK. It went 23 minutes. Malone did a lot.
More important, the PPV did a 1.5 buy rate, WCW’s highest that year.
Rodman earned $1.5 million that night. That more than made up for the $10,000 he got fined for not talking to the media. Malone got $900,000.
A good time was had by all.
Thumbnail courtesy of Getty Images.