One-dimensional Rodman leaves Spurs sputtering


When the San Antonio Spurs traded for Dennis Rodman in the off-season, center David Robinson welcomed the addition of a player who would help share the team's rebounding chores. Rodman did more than share in the rebounding in two games last week -- he dominated.

The 6-foot-8 forward had 24 against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday and 25 against the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

But is Rodman, with his league-leading 20.0 rebounds per game, really helping the Spurs?

As impressive as those 49 rebounds were, San Antonio lost both games. And that dropped the Spurs, a second-place team in the Midwest Division last year, to 2-4.

Sure, the Spurs hope they've solved the problem of starting the season minus a real point guard with the recent trade for Negele Knight, who had spent the better part of the past two seasons at the end of the Suns' bench. But Spurs coach John Lucas will have to impress on Rodman that it's not a crime to put the ball in the basket.

In those two games, Rodman had zero points to go with his 49 rebounds. It's not that Rodman had bad shooting nights, it's that he attempted just one shot in each game.

It's almost as if opponents have to change their defensive strategy against the Spurs: when Rodman grabs an offensive rebound, cover the passing lanes from the lane to the guards on the perimeter. Rodman's only move after an offensive rebound is away from the basket.

It's a waste. Rodman, one of the top defensive players in the game, is athletic enough to score on some of the 42 second-chance opportunities he has had this season. Yet, through six games, Rodman has attempted 17 shots, and is averaging 4.5 points.

Rodman's lack of scoring contributes to the team's 91.3 scoring average, which ranked last in the NBA through Sunday's games.

If Rodman's lack of offense continues, look for more teams to double-team Robinson in the low post. Should that happen, Robinson's early-season scoring success (his 27.7 average ranks third in the league) could be affected by Rodman's presence on the Spurs.

Journey to the center?

Speaking of Robinson's scoring average, the top three scorers in the league through Sunday were centers. The leader is Shaquille O'Neal of the Orlando Magic at 31.0, followed by Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets, who went into last night's game at Philadelphia at 29.0.

With Michael Jordan retiring after seven consecutive scoring titles, this season's championship is up for grabs. And you have to go back 17 seasons for the last time a center won the title.

That was Bob McAdoo, who averaged 31.1 for the Buffalo Braves during the 1975-76 season. That marked the third straight season that McAdoo, who did most of his scoring from the perimeter and who played some forward, led the league in scoring.

The last true center to win the league scoring title was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who averaged 34.8 for the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971-72. Abdul-Jabbar's scoring title the previous season was the last time a center combined that honor with an NBA championship.

Blazing his own trail

After a slow start, it seems that former Washington Bullets forward Harvey Grant has fit in with the Portland Trail Blazers.

After five games, Grant is averaging 13.4 points. On Sunday, Grant scored 18 (9-for-12 from the field) and grabbed 10 rebounds in Portland's 114-111 win over Detroit.

"Grant's feeling his way, and he's a talent. He's just got to feel comfortable on how he can help this team," Portland senior scout Bucky Buckwalter said of Grant, who struggled in preseason. "It's an adjustment. He's playing with guys who are good talents, and he'll fit in."

After losing its first two games, Portland has won three straight.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but the Trail Blazers have won without Chris Dudley. The center broke his foot early on the night Portland won its first game. Dudley, who hopes he's on the verge of a megabucks salary, was averaging 0.7 points and 4.3 rebounds at the time of the injury.

He could be out three months.

Bar none

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Mark Price had a news conference last week to push a new candy bar that bears his name. He even took a couple bites of the bar, much to the delight of photographers.

It may have been a bad move. Price missed his team's practice the next day. Seems he came down with a stomach virus.

Heigh-ho, silver

You may have seen the item last week in which an Illinois company announced plans to produce silver medallions honoring Chris Webber as the top pick in the 1993 draft.

The company will produce 15,000 pure silver medallions with Webber's likeness on the front and the Golden State Warriors name and his number on the back.

Each medallion will sell for $29.95, which will include a certificate of authenticity.

The intention of the certificate is to guard against the peddling of counterfeit coins that surely will be flooding the streets. What I'd like to know is, outside of Webber's family and friends, does anyone really care about buying a $30 Webber medallion?

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