"Dennis thinks you're cute": John Salley breaks down infamous video with Alonzo Mourning and how Chicago Bulls played mind games

John Salley narrated how he and Dennis Rodman used to play mind games against Alonzo Mourning.
John Salley narrated how he and Dennis Rodman used to play mind games against Alonzo Mourning.

Dennis Rodman and John Salley were teammates on three different teams during their respective NBA careers. They entered the league at the same time in 1986 and went on to play together for the Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers.

If there’s anyone who knows how Rodman operates, that dude would have to be Salley. In an episode of the All The Smoke podcast, “Spider” had this to say about how “The Worm” played mind games:

“No one ever threw a punch at me. I remember I told one guy, I told Alonzo [Mourning], I said, ‘Swing at me.’ We just started messing with him, I said, ‘Dennis [Rodman] thinks you’re cute.’ Dennis had asthma, so he’s breathing funny. And he [Mourning] said, ‘What’s wrong with y’all?!’ ‘He thinks you’re cute.’
“Dennis is like any way to get in his head, like ‘His calves. I don’t know. Look at his calves. Got great calves.’ Looks at his calves. ‘Calves are great. How’d you get calves like that?’ Alonzo was like, ‘Y'all are sick.’

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During the Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 campaign during the 1995-96 season, they made a trade that almost went unnoticed. They acquired from Toronto a veteran forward who was a big part of the Detroit “Bad Boys.” John Salley joined his former Pistons teammates Dennis Rodman and James Edwards to play for their once-heated rivals, the Bulls.

Salley played just 17 games for the Chicago that season and barely made an impact on the stat sheet. His presence, though, was invaluable. He gave the Bulls another veteran enforcer who relished doing the dirty work.

Rodman, on the other hand, gave his usual elite combination of defense and rebounding. “The Worm” averaged 14.9 RPG that year, the fourth consecutive season he won the rebounding title.

Dennis Rodman and John Salley helped the Chicago Bulls sweep Alonzo Mourning’s Miami Heat in 1996

The first team to test the juggernaut Chicago Bulls team in the 1996 playoffs was the Miami Heat. Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and Rex Chapman were the key members of that team.

The Bulls, on the other hand, were stacked. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, Luc Longley and John Salley were all on the roster.

The Bulls swept the Heat by an average of 23 points. Rodman, Salley, Longley, Bill Wennington and even James Edwards contributed to containing Mourning. Chicago’s defense and physicality limited the bruising All-Star big man to just 18.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 1.0 BPG.


“The Worm” and “Spider” also used their mind games to force Mourning into a couple of scuffles and technical fouls.

Most fans will likely remember Michael Jordan torching the Miami Heat for 30.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.7 APG and 1.7 SPG. Dennis Rodman and John Salley, though, were unsung heroes who made life difficult for Alonzo Mourning.

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Edited by Michael Macasero
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