With former Chicago Bulls Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman having requested an in-season trip to Las Vegas, here’s why former Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis would’ve made for great company for The Worm.
With no live NBA action to tune in to, we’ve all been glued to The Last Dance, and we’ve certainly not been let down. The only disappointment we’ve had has been seeing the credits appear on the screen at the end of each show, as we simply want more. The docu-series has also had Houston Rockets implications, as the Rockets ultimately gave Scottie Pippen the contract he had been pursuing.
The most recent episodes from Sunday revolved around Dennis Rodman and how then Bulls coach Phil Jackson went out of his way to make Rodman feel comfortable playing alongside Pippen and Michael Jordan. One of Jackson’s methods of getting Rodman acclimated to the Windy City was allowing him to take a vacation in-season, as he ultimately skipped town to go to Las Vegas, much to Jordan’s chagrin.
I couldn’t help but think about how Steve Francis would’ve been the most likely Rockets player to join the Worm in Vegas, as he had his own story of wanting to get away from the team mid-season, albeit so he could attend the Super Bowl. The Rockets were on a three-game losing streak after dropping a Saturday night game to the then New Jersey Nets, by a score of 88-77.
With an upcoming match against the Phoenix Suns on Monday, the Rockets boarded the team plane on Sunday to head to the desert. But there was one problem: Steve Francis was missing on that plane, which was unexpected considering how he didn’t have permission to stay back in Houston.
Francis didn’t have any injury, so where was he? It turns out that he opted to go to the Super Bowl instead of traveling with the team, which was later confirmed by then-coach Jeff Van Gundy.
“I talked to Steve,” Van Gundy said. “He was in the parking lot of the Super Bowl. We had a long discussion about him thinking it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and me talking about the commitment to the team.
The Super Bowl was in Houston that year, and Francis was known to enjoy the nightlife, which was very Rodman-esque of him. So it’s not surprising that he felt it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to attend the Super Bowl, and it’s also not surprising that Van Gundy’s reminder about the importance of committing to the team didn’t resonate with the three-time All-Star.
Francis was willing to risk the consequences so he could enjoy a night out, which was similar to Rodman being gone for a longer time period than he was given permission for. But at least Rodman was initially granted permission to take a vacation, unlike Francis.
The Rockets’ franchise player was ultimately suspended for one game as a result of the missed flight, which he disagreed with. But Francis’ actions hurt the team, as the Houston Rockets were outmatched by Phoenix by a score of 99-79, in a game he would’ve certainly made a difference in, were it not for his suspension. Francis was traded in the offseason, as he and Cuttino Mobley were sent to the Orlando Magic in a trade that brought Tracy McGrady to Houston.
It’s safe to say Francis would’ve certainly signed off on an in-season trip to Vegas, and he’d certainly have enjoyed partying with Rodman and his entourage, which included Carmen Electra.