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“The Last Dance” has beatific any and anybody in the gravitational cull of the Bulls’ absolutism on accompanying strolls bottomward anamnesis lane.
That includes Rusty LaRue, a assets bouncer on the 1997-98 team. LaRue played aloof 140 absolute account that division (none in the playoffs) and hasn’t gotten a acknowledgment in the docuseries, but he’s spent the accomplished few weeks administration charcoal from the era on amusing media:
One column in particular, though, affronted our curiosity. On May 2, LaRue tweeted out a folio of an old beat packet from an bearding alley cruise during the Bulls’ 1997-98 season. Amusing because, while some Bulls (including LaRue) had no argument with their absolute names actuality printed abutting to their auberge allowance assignment, best on the aggregation autonomous for aliases on the accounting almanac of their abode — a cast of how boundless the team’s acclaim was at the time.
The actual follow-up: Who was who? It’s absolutely a added crackable cipher than you ability anticipate — and acknowledge you to LaRue, Toni Kukoc, Joe Kleine and Bill Wennington for that.
Take a attending at the Bulls’ 1997-98 agenda and LaRue’s alarm area side-by-side. See if you apprehension anything:
Via Rusty LaRue and Basketball Reference
It’s in alphabetical order! Now, these two tables don’t altogether band up. There are 15 players on the Bulls’ auberge allowance appointment area and 17 on the Basketball Reference roster, which makes for a few acute inconsistencies. As an example, Kleine is the eighth amateur listed on the red page, but the ninth on the official roster. And there are four players amid LaRue and Wennington on the larboard while there are bristles on the right.
For explanation, attending no added than the Bulls’ transaction log from that season. During the 1997-98 season, the Bulls fabricated three cogent agenda moves:
Feb. 19, 1998: Traded Jason Caffey to the Golden Accompaniment Warriors for David Vaughn and two additional annular picks
March 2, 1998: Waived Vaughn
March 2, 1998: Signed Dickey Simpkins
Caffey, Vaughn and Simpkins all arise on the Basketball Reference 1997-98 Bulls’ agenda because all three spent time with the aggregation at some point during the season, but no two of them were active by the Bulls at the aforementioned time. If we accept the bold in catechism happened at some point afterwards the barter of Caffey, the two lists band up as such:
John Thompson – Keith Booth
Fred Sanford —— Randy Brown
Greg Noll ———– Jud Buechler
Tyson Bedford —- Scott Burrell
Peter Parker ——- Ron Harper
Oscar Miles ——– Michael Jordan
Austin Powers —- Steve Kerr
Joe Kleine ———- Joe Kleine
Toni Kukoc ——— Toni Kukoc
Rusty LaRue ——- Rusty LaRue
Stagger Lee ——– Luc Longley
Johnnie Walker — Scottie Pippen
Brook Mason —— Dennis Rodman
Bumpy Johnson — David Vaughn/Dickey Simpkins (depending on if the bold was afore or afterwards March 2)
Bill Wennington — Bill Wennington
And if you’re still not convinced, I abide these nuggets as added evidence:
John Thompson served as Georgetown’s arch men’s basketball drillmaster for 27 years from 1972-1999, and became the aboriginal African American arch drillmaster to win a aloft Division I championship in 1984. Keith Booth grew up in Baltimore, Md. in the backward ‘70s/early ‘80s and abounding the University of Maryland for college. He would accept been well-acquainted with Thompson’s successes and pioneership.
Born and bred in San Diego, Jud Buechler’s constant adulation of surfing is broadly known. In fact, Luc Longley abiding a appealing austere accept abrasion body-surfing with Buechler aback in Nov. 1996. Greg Noll was a trail-blazer in the big beachcomber surfing game.
Ron Harper’s son, Ron Harper Jr., who currently attends and plays basketball at Rutgers, listed Spiderman (Peter Parker) as his admired superhero for his amateur adventures page. As far as adamantine affirmation goes, I’ll accept this is appealing flimsy. But it’s something!
Who abroad but Michael Jordan would account an Illinois Golf Hall of Acclaim inductee (Oscar Miles) as their alias?
Joe Kleine is Joe Kleine.
Toni Kukoc is Toni Kukoc (and how absolute that Kukoc — certainly not not belled in that moment in time — just could not be agitated with a road-trip alias. What the hell did he accept to fear?).
Rusty LaRue is Rusty LaRue.
“I would assurance in beneath aliases Bruce Doull, Norman Gunston, Stagger Lee, which you could get abroad with over there,” Luc Longley already said. No, I cannot apart affirm this quote, but if there’s one affair I’ve abstruse alive in sports media, it’s to accept aggregate you apprehend on the internet. Blindly and all at once.
John Walker was a arresting civilian rights advocate in Arkansas in the closing bisected of the 20th century. His career achievements accommodate degrees from NYU (masters) and Yale (law), partnering at Arkansas’ aboriginal chip law abutting in 1965 and actuality adopted a accompaniment abode adumbrative in 2010 afore casual abroad in 2011. Scottie Pippen was built-in in Hamburg, Ark. in 1965. Johnnie Walker is additionally a acclaimed whiskey brand, and “scotch” is appealing abutting to “Scott.”
Bill Wennington is Bill Wennington.
The icing on the cake: The allowance appointment area LaRue tweeted lists Jordan’s aegis agents as actuality apartment 1804 and 1810, with Pippen’s detail in 1704. Oscar Miles was in allowance 1809. Johnnie Walker in 1709. Adds up.
All of the aloft doesn’t represent iron-clad acumen for every alias, to be sure, but it’s absolutely abundant to validate the antecedent hypothesis. As for the rest, Fred Sanford and Austin Powers are both, of course, iconic pop ability figures; Tyson Bedford (could Burrell accept meant Beckford? Or conceivably it’s an allusion to Mike Tyson’s Brooklyn roots?) doesn’t exist; Bumpy Johnson is an abominable New York mob boss, but has no credible articulation to Simpkins or Vaughn; and, I’ll be candid, I’m not abiding what to accomplish of Rodman’s best of Brook Mason, which turns up little to annihilation on a brief Google search.
It’s been a little over two months back the NBA abeyant its season. It’s been a little over three canicule back the latest episodes of “The Last Dance” aired. It’s been a little over 20 years back the Bulls capped off the best iconic absolutism the action of basketball has anytime seen.
But this aggregation will never stop accouterment us mysteries to unfurl. And we’re always beholden for that.
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