Rodman, for once, can blame messenger


As much as Dennis Rodman's act -- the makeup, the bad hair, the childish tirades -- had become more and more a turnoff, how can anyone agree with the decision by the Chicago Bulls to suspend him for the expletive-laced remarks made after Saturday's loss to the Toronto Raptors?

The reason that Bulls vice president of operations Jerry Krause gave for suspending Rodman for two games was that the remarks came on live television. "There are young children that listen to those shows and fans that don't need to hear that language," Krause said.

What is Rodman supposed to do, ask an interviewer whether he is going "live" before answering a question? The blame in this case lies with the cable station, which remained live even though Rodman was spouting profanity within the first 10 seconds of opening his mouth.

In any case, Rodman will miss two games and $104,878 in pay -- or hair dye money for a week. And even though his teammates have criticized his recent behavior and lack of effort on the court, they were stunned by the suspension.

"The punishment was too severe. He should have only got fined for what he did," Steve Kerr said.

Hill bitterness will linger

All Bob Hill did in his first two seasons as San Antonio Spurs coach was average more than 60 wins. Do that consistently, and you go to the Hall of Fame.

But Hill had the misfortune of starting the season without his best player, David Robinson. With Robinson sidelined by a back injury (Chuck Person is also out with a back injury, and is likely to miss the season), the Spurs are 3-17 after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers last night.

Oddly enough, Hill was fired on Tuesday, the day Robinson played his first game of the season. The Spurs were told of the firing on a bus ride to the team's shoot-around by vice president Gregg Popovich, who fired Hill and took over as coach.

"I had no idea," Hill said. "I don't know how [losses] could have been avoided given all that's happened this year."

If there is anything to come out of this, it is how important Robinson is to the Spurs. A player criticized in previous years for being soft, Robinson has consistently been one of the league's top scorers, rebounders and shot-blockers.

While the Spurs own the second-worst record in the league, Robinson still will lead them to the playoffs. And possibly by then Hill will be back on the sideline coaching, although the bitterness from this week in San Antonio will linger.

Around the league

The Milwaukee Bucks' 126-118 victory over the Washington Bullets on Saturday night was the season's highest-scoring regulation game.

When guard Darrin Hancock showed 15 minutes late for the Bucks' practice on Dec. 5 and told Chris Ford that he had car trouble, the coach said he thought to himself "he doesn't know."

What Hancock didn't know was that he had been traded to the Phoenix Suns the previous day. He had been living at a hotel at the start of the season, but moved in with a friend without telling anyone. Thus, no one was able to reach him to tell him about the trade.

Forward Jayson Williams, the league's top rebounder (16.1 per game), has pulled double-figure rebounds in every New Jersey Nets game this season.

The Toronto Raptors boast the most impressive trifecta -- wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls. Still, the Raptors are hurt by inconsistency, and are one of two teams (Boston is the other) that has yet to win on the road.

Pub Date: 12/13/96

Bullets tonight

Opponent: Denver Nuggets

Site: USAir Arena, Landover

Time: 7: 30

TV/Radio: HTS/WWRC (980 AM)

Outlook: The Nuggets have dropped eight straight, the longest current losing streak in the league. Five players score in double figures for Denver, led by G Dale Ellis (19.9). Bullets F/C Lorenzo dTC Williams (injured list, knee surgery) scrimmaged yesterday, but coach Jim Lynam said it's unlikely he'll be activated for the West Coast trip.

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