Once after covering a game between the Lakers and Bulls at the old Chicago Stadium, I was pulled over for driving the other way down a one-way street. Well, it was snowing, the street wasn't well lighted and I was from out of town. The policeman didn't want to hear it. He did want to know who had won the game.
"The Bulls," I said.
He was so happy that he tore up the ticket.
Many victories over the Lakers and four NBA championships later, I asked Rick Telander if the Bulls' fans are still having as much fun. Telander is a Chicago Sun-Times columnist who wrote a book about last season's team, "In the Year of the Bull."
"No, it's not the same," he said. "The only challenge for the team is a negative one. Instead of trying to win a championship, they're trying not to lose it. Everybody they play, they're supposed to beat."
He said, however, that he has noticed a tinge of anticipation in the air about tonight's game at the United Center against the Lakers.
Shaquille O'Neal is in town and the Bulls have no one to guard him.
Giving up less than 10 pounds, Luc Longley did an adequate job when the 300-pound O'Neal was with Orlando. But Longley caught an angry wave while body surfing in the Pacific Ocean last month and is still on the injured list.
Bill Wennington is too docile.
Robert Parish is too old.
Coach Phil Jackson likes to take on O'Neal with one man as much as possible, but the Bulls will be forced to send a lot of bodies at him. One of them undoubtedly will be the 220-pound Dennis Rodman's. The tale of the tape favors Shaq. But who knows? He not only has to overcome "Space Jam" but "Mars Attacks."
UCLA's Jelani McCoy has made 27 of 33 shots from the field for a percentage of 81.8%, second in the nation. Of course, the "field" in his case is the size of a dish towel.
"We've been working on his zero-footers," Coach Steve Lavin says. . . .
The Bruins play tonight at Pauley Pavilion against Jackson State, which took a nine-hour bus ride from Tucson to L.A. after Saturday's loss to Arizona and will bus to Tempe for a game Friday against Arizona State. . . .
Kansas sophomore Paul Pierce looks like Scottie Pippen on the court. . . .
Pierce got away from L.A., but another Inglewood Morningside ex stayed to star at USC. Tina Thompson, a 6-3 senior, is averaging 20.8 points and 10.4 rebounds. . . .
With Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne both in the game during the last two seasons, the Mighty Ducks' record is 27-14-6. With one missing, their record is 1-11-2. . . .
The Kings announced a crowd of only 9,620 for last Thursday night's game at the Forum against Calgary, their lowest since before Wayne Gretzky arrived. . . .
Eleven years after the L.A. Express was derailed, two of their players, San Francisco quarterback Steve Young and Denver offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman, were named to the Pro Bowl. . . .
NFL umpire Hendi Ancich spent a night in a Chicago hospital for observation after suffering a blow to the head in Saturday's game between San Diego and the Bears. But it takes more than that to keep him down. He's a San Pedro longshoreman. . . .
When Eddie Robinson finally steps down at the end of next season, the leading contender to replace him is former Grambling and NFL quarterback Doug Williams.
OK, we blew it. When The Times published the San Francisco 49ers' all-time team Monday as voted by their fans, readers called to accuse our neighbors to the north of losing memory of anything occurring before 1971. That is certainly plausible, considering more than a few of those 49er fans probably spent their formative years around Haight-Ashbury.
In this case, however, it is we who should apologize for reporting only half the story. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the 49ers asked fans to vote for two teams--one from the first 25 years, the other from the last 25 years. We printed only the Modern Era team.
The Golden Era team included all the players early Ram fans used to hate, including quarterbacks John Brodie and Y.A. Tittle, running backs Hugh McElhenny and John Henry Johnson, fullback Joe Perry, wide receiver R.C. Owens, tight end Monty Stickles, offensive linemen Bob St. Clair and Howard Mudd, defensive tackles Charlie Krueger and Leo Nomellini, linebackers Matt Hazeltine and Dave Wilcox and defensive backs Kermit Alexander and Jimmy Johnson.
While waiting in line to buy Rodman's Christmas album, I was thinking: Bill Walsh coached a great game Sunday, the Texas Rangers are the best team in the American League, Michael Johnson should be sportsman of the year, it's not easy to force out football coaches named Robinson.