Dennis Rodman Acting Up Again
By Nancy Armour
CHICAGO His overnight trip to Las Vegas after Game 1 wasn't nearly as outrageous as his Mormon bashing last year.
It's been tame stuff for the poster boy for bad behavior. He needed a really good antic, something that screamed Dennis Rodman. And he came through Monday, missing practice and the mandatory NBA Finals media session.
Rodman, who was fined $10,000 by the NBA and probably will be fined by the Chicago Bulls, was seen Monday night with Hulk Hogan attending a wrestling match in Auburn Hills, Mich.
``I talked to Dennis and he did not speak,'' coach Phil Jackson said. ``He said to my assistant trainer he didn't think he could make it down here in time for the press conference. I asked him, `Dennis, what should I say to the press?' and he hung up on me.''
Only the tattooed and multihued one could top the Chicago Bulls complete humiliation of the Utah Jazz in Game 3. So what if the Bulls held the Jazz to 54 points, the lowest point total since the inception of the shot clock in 1954? Who cares if Utah looks beat and a sixth title is within Chicago's reach? So what if John Stockton and Karl Malone are getting testy?
None of that matters, not when Rodman is wigging out again.
``It's very frustrating at this time,'' Scottie Pippen said. ``But you don't want to carry that into the next time, you don't want to carry that into the next practice. You want the team chemistry to stay as strong as possible. Especially the situation we're in, we don't want Dennis taking the focus away from the team.''
Accepting someone's quirks is one thing, but Rodman brings a whole new meaning to the word eccentric. There's his multicolored hair, now dyed in a fetching, green-and-black camouflage design. There's his landscape of tattoos and pierced body parts.
But more than anything, there's his behavior, which he seems to bring to new lows in the playoffs. Last year it was Mormon bashing. This year it's time management.
He waltzes in a half-hour late for home games. He disappears to the locker room early in each half supposedly to keep his muscles warm forcing Jackson to send a trainer to fetch him so he can make a grand entrance. A two-day birthday bender left him too pooped to practice in the second round.
And now, this.
``We couldn't have a society that acted like Dennis,'' Jackson said. ``There would be nobody having lanes in the freeway, you couldn't queue up anywhere and get in line. You'd have to be disorderly. Dennis is not a normal person in our society, but he's great in what he does here.''
Which is why the Bulls are content to let Rodman do his thing and why they insist he's not a distraction. Jackson didn't even mind when Rodman flew from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas after Game 1, saying, ``It's better than him hanging around this town and upsetting some Mormons.''
Though he hasn't been spectacular in the playoffs, Rodman has been solid. His mere presence on the floor gives the team a spark, and unlike last year, he's held his own against Malone.
``We don't like it, but we put up with it,'' Luc Longley said of Rodman's antics.
Besides, it's not like any of this is anything new. Rodman has been acting goofy for years, and the Bulls knew what they were getting when they signed him three years ago.
In fact, his latest one-year contract was designed specifically to make him behave. It has a $4.5 million base a paltry sum for one of the best rebounders ever with another $5.95 million in games-played incentives and bonuses.
``With Dennis comes a lot of baggage,'' Michael Jordan said. ``We just have to carry it and we have to accept it.''
And wait to see what stunt Rodman will pull next.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press