Bulls gamble with Rodman, but lose


Chicago Bulls forward Dennis Rodman just may have head-butted himself out of a return to the team after his actions on Saturday, which earned him a six-game suspension.

The Bulls knew that acquiring Rodman would be a risk, and yet, for much of the season, he was considered a model citizen. But after the latest incident, word out of Chicago is that Rodman has been late to numerous practices this season not a major crime.

It's the timing of Rodman's actions that have the Bulls concerned. Scottie Pippen has been complaining about a sore back and sore knees, and the team was hoping that several weeks of rest would have him fresh for the playoffs. And yet while the Bulls have said publicly they're not playing for an NBA-record 70 wins and a perfect home-court record, those goals are meaningful to the team which may have led Pippen to return earlier than expected in last night's home game against the New York Knicks.

Rodman, in a written statement, apologized Tuesday for his actions, but his real feelings may have come out during his radio show that same day. He said: "It's very hard for me to change. It's like saying, you know, 'You have to change the way you are to be accepted in the league.' I haven't done anything different than I've been doing the last 10 years."

It almost brings to mind what happened a year ago with the San Antonio Spurs, when Rodman, while not participating in team practices, did his job well enough during the regular season to help the team to the league's best record. But Rodman was a disruptive force during the playoffs and a main reason why the Spurs fell short of the finals.

Under the spotlight of the playoffs, Rodman's urge for attention could lead him to sabotage Chicago's championship run. If that happens, the Bulls won't be as tolerant as the Spurs were. And even if Rodman helps the team to a title, look for Chicago to go shopping for another power forward in the off-season.

Don't get a T-O, bay-bee

It's kind of hard to figure out who came out looking worst Orlando Magic guard Anthony Bowie or coach Brian Hill after the controversial ending to Tuesday's game against the Detroit Pistons.

Bowie, after grabbing his 10th rebound with two seconds left, called timeout so he could attempt to get an assist for his first career triple double. The move angered Detroit coach Doug Collins, who ordered all of his players to the side of the court and allowed Bowie to complete his triple double. Then Collins left the court with his team with under a second left in the game, a move that cost him a $5,000 fine.

After the game, Hill took the time during his news conference to apologize profusely to Collins and the Pistons for what had happened. But if Hill's feelings were really that strong, he should have yanked Bowie out of the game during the timeout and ordered his team to toss the ball in- bounds and end the game.

Instead, Hill didn't even conduct a huddle during the timeout, standing aside as his players charted strategy which got a seal of approval from Shaquille O'Neal for the final seconds. Kind of makes you wonder exactly who is running the Magic.

Going into last night's game against the Knicks, the Bulls had played 82 games (the length of an NBA season) since the return of Michael Jordan. The record in that span: 71-11. . . . Rodman isn't the first Bull to head-butt an official Jordan did it on Feb. 3, 1992, against the Utah Jazz. Jordan was fined $5,000 and suspended for one game. . . . . Last week, New Jersery Nets center Shawn Bradley had back-to-back games with double figure in blocks and become the fourth player in NBA history to do so. The others: David Robinson (twice), Elmore Smith and Dikembe Mutombo.

Quote of the week

From Nuggets forward Tom Hammonds, after the singer of the national anthem in Chicago on the first game back for Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was given a thunderous ovation: "Not taking anything away from the singer, but she didn't do that great a job."

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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