With basketball currently on the back burner as we try to navigate a post-COVID world, the eyes and minds of sports fans have been focused on The Last Dance, ESPN‘s 10-part docuseries focusing on the final year of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the late 1990s. The series wrapped up on Sunday night, and as coach Phil Jackson led the team through a cleansing, emotional farewell ritual, Pearl Jam favorite “Present Tense” played in the background.

On Friday, ahead of Sunday’s final two installments of The Last Dance, Pearl Jam shared an clip from the March episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast on which Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament were the featured guests. In the clip, prompted by an inquiry from Simmons about the most “surprising” Pearl Jam fans they’ve encountered, Vedder runs down the unlikely friendship he formed with enigmatic NBA superstar Dennis Rodman, whose ferocious playing, untameable antics, and tender soul figure prominently into the narrative of The Last Dance.

In the newly shared clip, we see footage of Rodman onstage at a Pearl Jam show while Vedder discusses their connection. As Vedder, an avowed Chicago sports fan, explains, he has maintained a “long, long, deep friendship” with Rodman.

“It was a little nerve-wracking at the beginning there… it was like, who the [expletive] is this guy?” he begins, with Dennis Rodman. “But he really… the music, it fueled him, and it was pretty intense. And that’s when they were going through all this … stuff, it was getting hot and heavy in Chicago. But that was his thing. He would put on our music and watch the tapes. Put on our music and watch the tapes. That guy worked so hard. You know, there was all the… you know, the wedding dress, all the stuff he would do. But man, that guy worked hard.”

After a detailed discussion of Rodman’s prodigious abilities crashing the boards, Vedder continues, “We tried to be a good influence, you know … just, ‘Settle down, let’s read a book.'”

He goes on to tell an old Dennis Rodman anecdote from the Bulls’ ’90s heyday. It was mid-season, the Bulls had a game the following day in Seattle, and as was his way, Rodman was looking for some fun to get into on his off day. When he showed up to the team’s hotel, “Phil Jackson is there in the lobby smoking a cigar … Dennis’ security guard holds out four plane tickets to Vegas. I said, “What the [expletive] is that? I brought a book. I thought we were gonna … sit on the couch and read books. And [Dennis] said, ‘Jane’s Addiction is playing in Las Vegas.’ And I’m like, ‘Jesus Christ, it’s like [expletive] six o’clock!’ He’s like, ‘We’ll get there by 9, they don’t go on ’til 9:30.'”

Continues Vedder, “I said Dennis, [expletive], you know, and I think a reason Phil likes me is that I’m, like, one of [Rodman’s] friends that will, like, calm him down, right? So I feel like Phil’s looking at me going like, ‘What the [expletive]’s going on over there with the plane tickets?”

“So sure enough,” continues Vedder, “We end up, ’cause he’s persuasive, we end up going through the [expletive] Seattle airport, I mean old ladies love Dennis Rodman. We’re running through the airport, people are creating this river, ‘Dennis, Dennis!,’ screaming, and he’s going ‘Eddie Vedder, right here! Eddie Vedder, right here!’ he’s pointing at me.”

“We go to Vegas, we get a car … we get to the side of the stage, Jane’s Addiction is playing, Flea‘s playing with them. We’re sittin’ on a road case on the side of the stage, we each got a light beer in our hand, music’s great … and Dennis looks over and he goes, ‘this is relaxing, right?’ … That’s how on jet fuel he was, that that was relaxing. … And then we got on another commercial plane, get back, and he had 20 rebounds the next night or something.”

Listen to the Eddie Vedder/Dennis Rodman story or stream the full Vedder/Ament episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast below:

Eddie Vedder Tells Dennis Rodman Story on The Bill Simmons Podcast

[Video: Pearl Jam]

The Bill Simmons Podcast ft. Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam) – Full Episode