As ESPN’s “The Last Dance” came to an end this past weekend, one of the greatest mysteries coming out of the series wasn’t about Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen, but about how in the world ECW legend Sandman somehow ended up in the background celebrating the Chicago Bulls 1998 championship with the team.
In the final episode of the series, which aired on Sunday, the Bulls return to the team hotel in Salt Lake City after defeating the Utah Jazz in game six of the ’98 Finals. Amidst the chaos, there was Sandman, rising above and snagging a high-five from MJ, which was caught on camera and spotted by some eagle-eyed wrestling fans.
So, how did all of this converge? We went straight to the source to get some answers and, it turns out, the Sandman sighting was just as surprising for the man himself.
“I f*cking forgot about it,” he says now. While many of the details surrounding that day remain ingrained in his mind, the fateful moment between the two remained a lost memory. As he puts it, “your headline should be: The Sandman doesn’t even remember high-fiving Jordan.”
The story of how Sandman and Jordan came together starts with a highway billboard. Sandman, who had moved to Salt Lake City to start a concrete business, was on his way to a picnic at a friend’s house on the afternoon of game six. “We’re driving down I-95. I’m not even thinking about f*cking basketball at all. I didn’t even know the game was going on that day,” he says. “So, driving down I-95 I see this f*cking billboard saying the Jazz are playing Jordan.”
Sandman says he pulled his van, filled with his family, off the highway and headed toward Delta Center, home of the Jazz. He stopped for the first scalper he found and got out of the van. “I have been to at least one-hundred-fifty to two-hundred concerts. Never used a ticket, always used scalpers,” he says. “I go to the scalper and I’m like ‘dude, I need some tickets for this f*cking game, I don’t have cash.’ He says ‘no problem.’ I ended up following that guy. He ends up taking me to a hotel in Salt Lake City, don’t even know the name or anything, and they had this whole room set up.”
Despite plenty of experience in the ticket scalping game, Sandman was not prepared for an operation like the one he stepped into. “They had computers set up. They had like 20 people in the room. I had never seen anything like this,” he says. With his credit card, he purchased 11 tickets for $175 each, enough for his family, his friends and friends of friends. “I’m making three grand a week back then. It wasn’t a sh*t ton. I’m like ‘are you kidding me, no problem.'”
After the game, Sandman and his crew walked over to the hotel in an effort to meet the Bulls. They waited for hours before anybody arrived. And then … it happened.
“I don’t remember that part at all, Jordan coming out of the f*cking bus and high-fiving him. I swear to God, I don’t remember it. I haven’t told anybody that story! I can’t find a person I’ve told that story to, that I high-fived Jordan, because I f*cking forgot,” he says. He does remember, however, meeting Scottie Pippen and taking pictures with him and the Larry O’Brien Trophy after Jordan had left the lobby. It just all remained a blur until Sunday.
“I’m with my girl, I’m laying in bed. It’s a quarter to eleven. I was not expecting to see myself. When I saw myself, I screamed and yelled so loud. She’s still mad at me for it. She was scared, got up and ran out of the f*cking condo. I was freaking out so bad,” Sandman told us.
Theories abounded that Sandman must have been friends with Dennis Rodman, who infamously ditched practice with the Bulls during the ’98 Finals to make an appearance with nWo in WCW. To the best of his knowledge, though, Sandman says the two have never met.
Sandman is no stranger to interacting with professional athletes, something that he still finds a bit odd. He tells stories about being asked to take pictures with guys like NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who are just as excited to meet him as he once was to meet the Bulls. “To me that’s a f*cking little bit insane,” he says. “We act out a sport, you know what I’m saying? All of these guys that are so real and so f*cking manly and shit. When you think about it, we’re dance artists. We’re literally f*cking dance artists. It’s ballet. It’s physical ballet. Those guys love that.”
On Sunday, “The Last Dance” took us back to a night when the roles were reversed. It was Sandman touching skin with one of his heroes. It’s a night that he can save to his memory bank now. A night an ECW legend came face-to-face with the greatest basketball player of all-time in the lobby of a hotel in Salt Lake City.
All thanks to a billboard.
Listen to The Sandman’s full re-telling of the story below.
[WARNING: NSFW language]