Paxson's next season may be last NBA Finals notebook


PHOENIX -- The hero of last night's game, Chicago reserve guard John Paxson, believes he may have one more year left in him. Paxson, 32, is a 10-year NBA veteran.

"I hope to play next year, and then realistically that might be it," said Paxson, who missed 23 games this season with knee problems. His contract expires after 1994.

"I've never had personal goals," said Paxson, who began his NBA career with San Antonio in 1983. "Success for me has always been determined in winning championships, and I feel I've left my mark in Chicago."

Paxson, who lost his starting job this season to B. J. Armstrong, made four of his five three-point attempts in Friday's 108-98 loss.

Last night his 23-footer with 3.9 seconds to play gave Chicago its third straight title, 99-98.

"I've played with Michael Jordan for eight years, and there has been a certain comfort level there. The fact of the matter is, when I make one or two shots, he'll be looking for me more. And that translates into more playing time.

"There is a lot of pressure when you're getting only a handful of shots. If you don't make a majority of them, you're looked at as not having contributed. It's not a fair assessment, but that's the way it goes."

Phoenix plans parade

Even though the Bulls won last night, the city of Phoenix has scheduled a downtown parade Saturday morning to honor the (( Suns, who have restored civic pride and brought national attention to the valley.

"It's been terrific news," said Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson. "There are very few other things that can get you this kind of national exposure."

In the past few years, Arizona has been buffeted by negative publicity over the AzScam banking scandal, the state's initial rejection of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday and the resulting loss of the 1993 Super Bowl.

"The imagery of the area and our new arena that's being shown at halftime and during timeouts is absolutely in Phoenix's favor," said Johnson. "To me, it looks like Chicago has a first-class team playing in a third-class building.

"In my opinion," Johnson told the Arizona Republic, "the two teams make a great metaphor for the cities they represent. There's a sense of a crumbling dynasty vs. an up-and-coming challenger -- the team and the city. There is just a sense that their time is past. Maybe not this year, but it's slipping away."

Johnson should be reminded that the Bulls will have their new United Center arena, across from Chicago Stadium, ready in time for the 1994-95 season.

Tribute to Red

Over the years, Bulls general manager Jerry Krause has gained respect for Red Auerbach, the former Boston Celtics coach and general manager who underwent heart bypass surgery last week.

"When I first came into this league, I used to think Red simply pushed the [Bill] Russell button and produced a championship. But I learned that Auerbach was an out-and-out genius. He kept winning titles with different players and different formulas. That's the true test of a coach or general manager."

Battle plans

When rookie coach Paul Westphal prepares his Suns defense, he borrows a few tricks from battle strategy used by Israel in recent Middle East wars.

"Paul likes the Israeli army a lot," said Suns point guard Kevin Johnson. "He says the one characteristic of their army is that it never does the same thing twice even when it works."

In the first five games of the finals, Westphal kept the Bulls off balance by constantly changing defensive assignments.

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