With intensity level rising, NBA sends message


With Dennis Rodman, Nick Van Exel and, to a lesser degree, Magic Johnson getting into highly publicized scrapes with NBA officials, and notables like Shawn Kemp drawing suspensions for fighting, one can only wonder what will happen when the league's postseason curtain rises tonight.

"Nobody plans these things. The word is out, though. [Commissioner David] Stern and [vice president for operations Rod] Thorn have put the word out [that fighting won't be tolerated]," said former Phoenix guard turned Turner analyst Danny Ainge.

But Ainge, who got into a few tussles during his playing days, including a celebrated biting incident with former Atlanta center Tree Rollins, said a little scuffle now and then isn't such a bad thing for the players or the league.

"The only thing I worry about is when a lot lesser player tries to go in and get involved with a bigger-name player, but people will be cognizant because they [league officials] are going to be paying attention," said Ainge.

Whatever happens, the Turner networks (TNT, TBS) will catch most of it, carrying at least 40 games over the next 30 nights. Each network will have doubleheaders tonight, with TBS airing the New York-Cleveland series at 7 p.m., followed by Portland-Utah. TNT has Atlanta-Indiana at 8 p.m. with Houston against the Lakers afterward.

Bullets forward Chris Webber will join studio host Ernie Johnson and analyst Cheryl Miller for inserts during and after games tonight and tomorrow, with Bullets coach Jim Lynam joining Vince Cellini for "Inside the NBA" on TNT after doubleheaders both nights. Also, Channel 7 weekend sportscaster Chris McKendry will report from the sidelines during the Portland-Utah series.

Limited national exposure

Our new NFL entry, the Ravens, will get two cracks at national television, according to the league schedule released yesterday.

However, neither their appearance on Oct. 13 against Indianapolis on TNT, nor the game against San Francisco on NBC on Nov. 17 will be played here in Charm City.

So, who starts the picket line?

Tops again

Congratulations are in order for Channel 2's Scott Garceau and columnist Ken Rosenthal of The Sun, who have been named sportscaster and sportswriter of the year for the state of fTC Maryland in voting conducted by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

Garceau and Rosenthal, who have each been honored before by the NSSA, will receive their awards at a banquet in Salisbury, N.C., next Monday, where NBC's Bob Costas and Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated will receive national designations and Dick Enberg of NBC and Golf Digest's Dan Jenkins will be inducted into the organization's Hall of Fame.

Right under their noses

Figuring they had the best candidate for baseball studio host already in their grasp, Fox this week named Chip Caray to the post for duties that begin June 1, and selected former Red Sox infielder to work with Caray and Dave Winfield in the studio.

Caray, the grandson of Harry, the Cubs' broadcasting legend, and son of Skip, the Braves' legendary homer, had been slated for play-by-play on Fox, and the network now has two game-calling slots to fill. The last Fox analyst post is rumored to be going to former Orioles outfielder Ken Singleton, now an analyst on the Montreal Expos' television network.

He takes a walk. . . again

Stop us if you've heard this before: His Airness, Michael Jordan, got out of a pre-playoff telephone press conference yesterday, citing an unspecified emergency.

You could grant Jordan the benefit of the doubt if you forgot he has snubbed reporters at least once in each of his last three seasons in the league, and if his coach, Phil Jackson, hasn't said, "The emergency is the sun is shining and it's a beautiful day in Chicago."

A league spokesman said Jordan was "doing us a favor" by agreeing to do the phoner and that the NBA would "take him at his word."

Why? Jordan has repeatedly shown disdain for any media-related function that doesn't directly lead to feathering his already bloated financial nest. The only time Jordan feels the need to communicate to anyone is when he's pitching batteries or fast food or a sports drink or any of his other myriad endorsements. By continually setting himself above the rules, Jordan makes the air around him a little more noxious.

Pub Date: 4/25/96

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