Well, it sure didn't take Dennis Rodman long to conform. When "The Worm" arrived in Chicago, in preparation for the start of training camp today with the Chicago Bulls, he was sporting a red hairdo with the team insignia shaved in the back.
Yeah, maybe the hair clashed with the blue fingernails, but this is Rodman we're talking about -- not Giorgio Armani. But the Bulls ** don't care about fashion statements. All the Bulls care about is winning and they're looking for Rodman to play defense, grab rebounds (he's won four straight rebounding titles) and disrupt opponents in the exact same way that used to irritate Chicagoans.
Aside from the Bulls, the Orlando Magic is the team most affected by this week's deal that sent Will Perdue to the San Antonio Spurs for Rodman. That's because a team that has Michael Jordan at the point, Scottie Pippen at shooting guard, Toni Kukoc at small forward and Rodman at power forward has to be -- even without a center -- the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
"That's like a winning team as it is," Rodman said upon his arrival in Chicago. "Then bring somebody like me in, you know, adds a little more cinnamon to the French toast."
Of course, that's only if that cinnamon remains flavorful, and doesn't go bad as it did in San Antonio last season where Rodman was a good citizen most of the year -- only to rebel in the playoffs as the favored Spurs were eliminated by the Houston Rockets.
There's a major difference in Chicago, where the competitiveness of Jordan and Pippen probably won't allow Rodman to go off on a tangent. Jordan's so driven, and has his mind so set on winning another championship, that he'll challenge Rodman's crazed behavior.
Since the trade, Rodman suddenly has backed off the threat of JTC sitting out this season until his contract (he'll make $2.5 million this season) is renegotiated. Is that a sign of conforming? Sounds like it. We'll just have to see if Rodman is still a team player in June.
Haley to follow Rodman?
And since we're talking about Rodman's move to Chicago, let's send out congratulations to Jack Haley. Haley? He's a six-year NBA veteran who moonlights as Rodman's personal attendant/interpreter, and the trade earned Haley an invitation to Chicago's camp. I'm still trying to confirm rumors whether he also does Rodman's hair.
While I'm one of few people in the league who witnessed the three minutes played by New Jersey Nets center Yinka Dare last season (0-for-1 from the field, one rebound -- who could forget?), I can't say I've ever seen live any of Haley's 3,156 minutes of action. But I hear the guy can wave a mean towel. Haley's shouting "I Love this Game" all the way to the bank.
They call them the Golden State Warriors, but when last seen, Tim Hardaway and Latrell Sprewell were acting less like teammates and more like the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Hardaway, in a television interview, said just a handful of players gave their all for coach Don Nelson. Sprewell, in return, said Hardaway was kissing Nelson's, er, shoes. Since neither player was dealt in the off-season, the two are now being asked to co-exist under a new coach, Rick Adelman.
There was an attempt to smooth things out two weeks away when the two got together with general manager Dave Twardzik and Adelman. After that meeting, Adelman said, "It's going to work out. Both of them want to put last season behind them. . . . I think we're all ready to go to camp now and get started."
Maybe they want to put last season behind them, but Hardaway apparently doesn't want to discuss it. When he showed up at the team's rookie/free-agent camp earlier this week, Hardaway shooed away reporters.
"I don't want to talk," he said. "And I'll be cursing [people] out, too." Not only will Hardaway have to learn to co-exist with Sprewell, but also B. J. Armstrong, who came over in a trade with the expansion Toronto Raptors.