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THE NBA / MARK HEISLER : Battle Lines Drawn in Chicago War

Onto every victory parade, some hard rain is going to fall. The Bulls have their umbrellas out after the publication of a book, “The Jordan Rules.”

Author Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune, caught in a maelstrom of controversy, now refers to it as “The Jordanic Verses.”

An account of the Bulls’ 1990-91 season, his book alleges myriad Michael Jordan excesses: punching Will Perdue in practice; telling teammates not to pass the ball to Bill Cartwright; vowing to get General Manager Jerry Krause fired.

So far player response is mixed.

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Jordan denies everything.

Perdue acknowledges that Jordan hit him but says it was no big deal.

In the media, reaction is breaking down along company lines. The Tribune supports the book. The rival Sun-Times is highlighting criticism. Remember, Chicago might not have invented the newspaper war but it raised it to an art form. Ben Hecht didn’t set his classic play, “The Front Page” there by accident.

Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti, obtaining an advance copy, called it “the book from hell.”

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Krause, taking the high ground, told the Sun-Times: “When a writer, in the name of personal greed, writes a book that is mostly fiction and passes it off as fact, that just proves to me we live in the greatest country in the world.”

Meanwhile, the Tribune is printing excerpts from the book.

BIGFOOT

Is Jordan wearing those X caps to salute pal Spike Lee’s movie on Malcolm X? Or because he’s outgrown all his old caps?

Jordan may be the most popular athlete since Muhammad Ali and the greatest basketball player ever, but before this book, there were already examples of high-handed behavior:

--In Jordan’s second season, he is forced to sit out 64 games with an injury. Impatient to return, he quarrels publicly with Krause, who says he’s only heeding medical advice.

The rift leads to a meeting with owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Jordan arrives with a tape recorder to monitor the session, saying he wants to be sure everyone knows what was said.

--Jordan walks out of practice in a dispute with Coach Doug Collins over the score of a scrimmage.

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--In subsequent years, leading right up to the championship, Jordan rips Krause publicly for not acquiring players Michael thinks would help, such as Walter Davis.

Again Reinsdorf is called upon to mediate. After last season’s critique, he notes publicly that Jordan is not the general manager.

--When NBA officials learn that Jordan doesn’t plan to accompany the team to the White House, they beseech Krause to change Michael’s mind. According to a league source, Krause responds that he can’t do anything with Jordan.

--After Jordan’s White House no-show, Horace Grant announces: “It’s a double standard, but it has been a double standard since I got here. . . . I’m not going to sit here and let (Jordan) ruin this team.”

VIEW FROM THE ‘BURBS

With the downtown dailies deadlocked on the issue, we’ll turn to veteran columnist Mike Imrem of the Arlington (Ill.) Daily Herald.

“You go in the locker room before a game and you find this superstar who is congenial and cooperative and you get seduced by him,” Imrem says. “It’s hard to believe there is anything negative, but there is another side to him.

“In a sense, Michael reminds me of (the late football coach) George Allen. Allen was given an unlimited budget and exceeded it. Michael has been given an unlimited license to be special and exceeded it.

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“He’s so far out, you’d think he wants to come back to the group now, but he says things that just drive a wedge between them. Like ‘my supporting cast’ and ‘my teammates didn’t show up tonight.’ That’s just not good.”

PEOPLE FROM UNDER THE STAIRS

It’s nice to see the downtrodden arise.

Congratulations to some former punching bags:

DENVER--General Manager Bernie Bickerstaff, Coach Paul Westhead and a new ownership team inherited a declining situation and just about finished it off.

They acknowledged their errors, however, and have at least started to rebuild. So far, they have the plum of the draft, 7-foot-1 Dikembe Mutombo.

MIAMI--The Heat started 6-2 and spent five heady days in first place.

In its maiden voyage, three seasons ago, it won its sixth game in February.

Everyone kept saying this was the expansion team of the future, but it went 15-67, 18-64 and 24-48 under uptight Coach Ron Rothstein. Recycled but relaxed Kevin Loughery is the antidote. Rookie point guard Steve Smith is a find.

CLEVELAND--You want to talk about bad luck, this was a coming team before injuries felled Brad Daugherty, Mark Price and Hot Rod Williams, who missed a combined 159 games in two seasons.

Price rejoined a 1-4 team last week, and the Cavaliers went 4-1.

With him last season, they were 9-7; without him 22-44.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO. . . .

Danny Ferry?

He’s shooting 22% and running No. 6 in the Cavaliers’ forward rotation, behind Larry Nance, Winston Bennett, Hot Rod Williams, Henry James and Craig Ehlo. The only thing keeping him on the roster is his guaranteed contract for $2.8 million a year.

Ferry came to camp 15 pounds heavier to make the switch to power forward. So far, it hasn’t worked out any better than his stint at small forward.

To his credit, he isn’t complaining.

“I feel like I’m a better player than I was last year, even if I haven’t shown it,” he said.

Clipper General Manager Elgin Baylor, who got Ron Harper, two No. 1 picks and a No. 2 for Ferry and Reggie Williams, isn’t complaining either.

FACES AND FIGURES

The latest edicts, just in from Pat Riley: The new Knick coach has barred not only the writing press from team charter flights but the WFAN crew that broadcasts Knick games and is hired subject to Knick approval. Another first for Riley. . . . Riley, challenging Patrick Ewing to be all that he can be: “I think he’s at the crossroads. I really do. . . . He’s proven individually he’s the best center in the league. This is the critical year for Patrick, to see what he can do to bring this team to another level.”

Not Yet Out From Under the Stairs: The Sacramento Kings took a 42-game road losing streak into New Jersey last Tuesday, hoping that was their night. The Nets had a seven-game losing streak and didn’t have Derrick Coleman. The Kings took a 14-point lead in the first half--and lost. . . . Attitude adjustment: Last season, King officials suspected players were malingering on the injured list. This season, there’s a problem with new point guard Spud Webb, who is unhappy about his contract. The first thing Webb said to newly arrived Mitch Richmond was: “Welcome to hell.”

Get ready to bid farewell to: Dallas’ Randy White, eighth pick in the 1989 draft, who declared that as long as Richie Adubato was the coach, “I don’t think I’ll be able to develop . . . into the kind of player the fans, the media and the rest of the league want to see.” . . . More trouble in paradise: with Cartwright hurt, Perdue starts for the Bulls. Said Chicago assistant coach Tex Winter: “Will will never be Bill Cartwright because he doesn’t have that kind of toughness.”

What, them worry? The Bulls won seven games in a row and lead the league in shooting at 52%. Of their first eight victories, seven were by 10 points or more. . . . Magic Johnson was going to raise money for the Challenger Boys and Girls Club, with participating companies each taking a game and donating money on Johnson’s assist total. The money now will be donated on James Worthy’s point total. Details: (213) 315-6502.

It may be coincidence but: Isiah Thomas, burning about being left off the Olympic team, scored 44 points against John Stockton, who was chosen over him. It was Thomas’ biggest night in eight seasons. Said Thomas: “As I’ve said before, I don’t hold any grudges. (Stockton) is an excellent player. His talent and ability speak for themselves.”

Further decline of the Bad Boys: The Pistons’ 5-6 start was their worst in five seasons. Mark Aguirre missed three games with a sprained ankle. Said Coach Chuck Daly: “He has a contract problem, you know.” As in, he’d like a new one. Comment: Good luck. . . . The Knicks want Dallas’ Rolando Blackman but will have to rope in another team for a three-way deal. Blackman’s $1.9-million salary won’t fit under New York’s salary cap, and the Mavericks aren’t interested in available Knick players.

The Bullets are taking a chance on Ralph Sampson but only because the price is right--$130,000. Says General Manager John Nash: “Our medical people view him as a risk, but because this is a minimum financial commitment, our expectation level isn’t as high.” . . . Where are those leprechauns when you need them? The Celtics will rest Kevin McHale, who returned too quickly from foot surgery, for two weeks. Brian Shaw reaggravated his hamstring pull. Dee Brown had knee surgery and won’t be back until January. The Celtics are trying to sign Vinnie Johnson, 35.

After rookie Larry Johnson outscored him, 27-25, and out-rebounded him, 15-11, in a Hornet victory over the Celtics at Charlotte, Larry Bird made it a point to go over and shake hands. Said Bird: “He’s a great player. He’s getting paid $3 million a year, he’d better be.” Said Johnson: “My man, Larry. Well, my answer for that is the only reason I’m getting paid $3 million is because of Larry. Larry and Magic.”


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