Maybe it’s because the previous three coaches who came back in the finals to face a team they played for--Pat Riley against the Houston Rockets, Rick Adelman against the Chicago Bulls and Ed Macauley against the Boston Celtics--all lost. Or maybe it’s just because he’s Jerry Sloan, downplaying everything as usual, even as he stands in the United Center below the banner signifying that the Bulls have retired his uniform No. 4.
“I stood over in the other building,” the Utah Jazz coach said, quick to note that he played in the now-destroyed Chicago Stadium that used to be across the street.
“I still wear the ring that they gave me, and that’s about the only thing people say: ‘Where did I get the ring,’ ” Sloan said. “I tell them that’s usually what time I’m supposed to get home.”
In other words, he’s pretty underwhelmed by the whole coaching-where-you-once-starred experience. It’s like the exchange Sloan had Tuesday.
Q: “Have you spoke to [former backcourt mate] Norm Van Lier since you got here?”
A: “Yes, I saw him the other night.”
Q: “What did he say to you?”
Utah’s Karl Malone, continuing to deny the floor burn on his palm is bothering his shooting: “Obviously, I’m stinking it up right now as a whole. You know, I kind of wish people would stop talking about it. I’m playing and that’s the most important thing. And like I said, I don’t have any excuses. I’m just not playing good right now.”
Scottie Pippen, on Michael Jordan’s highlight reel, left-handed reverse layup on which he hung in the air until he cleared three Utah Jazz defenders: “I’ve seen it so many times. What do you want me to tell you?” And Pippen on the motivation to Jordan of Malone’s winning the MVP: “I think it’s a big motivation. It’s very obvious that he [Jordan] played as well as Karl, deserved the MVP. . . .”
Steve Kerr, on defending Utah’s pick-and-roll: “We saw what he [John Stockton] did to Houston. They were paying so much attention to Malone that they were letting Stockton have open shots. We try not to give him the open looks.”
Around the League
Julius Erving accepted an offer to join the Orlando Magic with duties that include evaluating new business opportunities for RDV Sports, the team’s parent company. . . . The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets will play in the first NBA regular-season game to be held in Mexico next season, in Mexico City’s Palacio de Deportes on Dec. 6, 1997. . . . John Starks of the New York Knicks had surgery to repair ligaments of a partially dislocated joint on his left middle finger. . . . John Wallace’s girlfriend, Michelle Bolger, said she wants to withdraw a harassment charge alleging the New York Knick rookie punched her in the face and choked her during a quarrel over their son, said Wallace’s lawyer, David Murante.