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Bulls Venting Over Rodman Antics

TIMES STAFF WRITER

This might have been a Utah nightmare for 11 Bulls, but for Dennis Rodman, it has been more like a long weekend in Las Vegas.

He flew there after Sunday’s Game 4 loss, flew back here for Monday afternoon’s media session, then returned to Vegas afterward. Coach Phil Jackson, who said Rodman didn’t have permission for trip No. 1, said No. 2 was OK, noting Dennis was back Monday night, snug in his bed in Park City.

However, there was also a report of a sideline skirmish between Jackson and Rodman. Whatever is going on, Rodman’s teammates are, once again, voicing their exasperation.

“I can’t beat his head in,” Michael Jordan said. “Phil can’t beat his head in. . . .

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“It’s frustrating when you realize you can’t get to him. I’m past that frustration. I realize, Dennis is his own man, he’s going to have his own way of doing things.”

The Chicago Tribune reported that Jackson told Rodman to stop shooting after four misses in Game 4, whereupon Rodman said he had a stomachache and went to the dressing room.

“That’s true,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if all of those above incidents precipitated him going to the dressing room. I think he had a biological urge to go to the dressing room and it wasn’t my saying that he missed four shots.

“Dennis took two poor shots to start the game and those are the shots that I queried him about. I said, ‘Those shots aren’t in the context of our offense. . . . ‘

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“Dennis questioned that right away and understood what I was talking about.”

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Before Sunday’s game, Rodman made an offhand remark in which he characterized Mormons, using an expletive.

Rodman was asked about it Tuesday.

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Reporter: Do you regret what you said?

Rodman: Are you from here?

Reporter: Yes.

Rodman: Next question.

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Reporter: Have you heard the Anti-Defamation League is denouncing you for it?

Rodman: No. I didn’t call them (expletive). I said some of them. That’s fair.

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OK, Jordan is tired.

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After denying the altitude was bothering him while struggling in two games here, Jordan finally conceded he was “exhausted, physically and emotionally. . . .

“I was exhausted physically after the game,” he said Tuesday. “There was a lot of high intensity and we’ve been back and forth. I was just a little physically tired. In the last couple days, I’ve been relaxing, just trying to get my legs back. . . .

“Come Wednesday, I’ll be fine.”

Jordan is getting almost 72 hours’ rest for Game 5 since NBC mandates a Sunday-Wednesday-Friday format to protect its ratings-grabbing Thursday night lineup.

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Said Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan, “You’ve got to play against Michael Jordan on three or four days’ rest, that’s kind of a scary thought.”

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Game 5 is expected to be like Game 4, slow and defense-oriented.

Despite its exciting ending, Game 4’s 151 points were the second fewest in the finals since the advent of the shot clock in 1955. The Bulls and Miami Heat already had set a playoff record for fewest points in the modern era in the East finals.

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Nor should it be a surprise if there is trouble. Utah’s Greg Ostertag nearly went after Scottie Pippen in Game 4 and the coaches aren’t counseling retreat.

“I challenged Steve Kerr about the abuse he’s taking from [John] Stockton and I told him, that’s enough,” Jackson said.

“You know, he’s getting run over out there by Stockton and he’d better step up because he’s not getting fair play for fair play. So there are some guys I feel have to step up another level in certain situations out there on the floor and be contentious, at least.”

Jackson also has put the Game 5 officials on notice that he wants more than the 11 free throws the Bulls got in Game 4 and added that the Jazz cheats.

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“Utah, as we saw them do against Houston in the finals in the West, is very good on its home court,” Jackson said. “Call it illegal if you want to call it illegal defense, but they are not in legal spacing and they come out and make you play in a closet. . . .

“There are certain players, we haven’t been able to get them to provide that spacing. Some of them have been Dennis Rodman. They haven’t been playing him honestly, and Ron Harper, whom Stockton runs off and leaves.”

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The Bull bench, apart from Brian Williams, has been taking a bashing in Chicago. Toni Kukoc, last season’s sixth-man-award winner, is the team’s No. 3 scorer in the series--at 7.5 points a game.

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Said Jordan, “This is not a time to question my teammates. . . . It’s the point where you have to encourage them. We need their help, we need their support, we need their productivity.”

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Shandon Anderson, the rookie who missed Games 3 and 4 because of the death of his father, has returned, giving the Jazz another player it can put on Jordan.

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As usual, the zany Bulls dominated the news while the mellow Jazz tried to endure the second day off. Stockton and Malone had a joint news conference, with Malone looking peeved for the first time in the series.

Asked what winning a title would mean, he said, “The last I heard was, ‘They never got there, they’ve never taken a team there.’ Now all of a sudden, ‘They’ve never won a championship.’

“Then it might be, who knows, ‘They can’t win another one.’ Y’all keep it going on and on.”


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