Celebrating 1990-91 - Dennis Hopson
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
Dennis Hopson didn't play that much in the Bulls 1990-91 championship season after being acquired from the New Jersey Nets. But few players ever saw so much competitiveness. Hopson, the muscular 6-5 all-American guard from Ohio State, was the guy who had to guard a frenzied Michael Jordan every day in practice.
"A lot of that competitiveness started in practice," said Hopson. "We had to battle those starters every day. They were going to make you play. They were physical. There was a lot of conversation, they made you work. And you had to make them work. They wanted to get over the hump and we feel the guys on the bench challenged them every day."
Not that Jordan wouldn't have been able to do the things he did to lead to a title. But Hopson feels he also played a role by pushing Jordan and making him work in practice, just trying to do something to help. Hopson would be traded after one season for Bobby Hansen, who played a major role off the bench in the 1992 Finals against Portland.
"Practicing against Mike, people don't always understand the way you see Michael play was the way he played in practice," said Hopson. "He never sat out. He didn't care if he played the whole game and had 40. He's be there the next day practicing with a focus that you knew he could see that light, that ring at the end of the tunnel.
"It was such a different mindset with that (Bulls) team," said Hopson. "The competitiveness every day, the belief, the confidence of the group. It was great to be a part of."
Hopson now is an assistant coach at Bowling Green State U. after working as an assistant for Rollie Massimino at Northwood U. in Florida.
"You could see when I got there it was a group eager for that championship, to get over the hump and they were going to do everything," said Hopson. "They were hungry. And you could see that approach to every game, to every practice and that's what eventually led to success.
"And here you were playing with the best player in basketball and then going on to win a title was so special," said Hopson. "You retire and look around and see so many high level players who never get a chance to experience a championship. It doesn't get any better than that.
"I was part of that bench group and with the veterans and young guys we had we felt we were well rounded at every position and you had guys who could come in and hold the fort down and make a contribution to winning that title. It made it so special."