Unlike Jordan, Barkley may be in bind from book

December 17, 1991|By Alan Goldstein

There are striking similarities between the two recent books, "The Jordan Rules" and "Outrageous," in which superstars Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley demean their less-talented teammates.

But there also is a major difference between the ways team managements view the candor of these two players.

In Chicago, Jordan -- who didn't write the book describing his behavior and the Bulls' reaction -- is viewed as the indispensable man on the court and at the box office, where he guarantees sellouts throughout the league. And his Bulls teammates have grown to accept the team's double standard in dealing with Jordan and his supporting cast.

But, in Philadelphia, there is a growing feeling that Barkley might have stepped on too many toes, particularly those of owner Harold Katz.

Barkley criticized Katz for not giving more authority to his front office staff, saying he knows less about basketball than the average fan.

He also accused Katz of being too cheap to purchase a private plane for the 76ers' use on the road. In a final zinger at Katz, Barkley says in his book, written with Roy Johnson, "I've got three more good seasons left, so get a clue."

Responded Katz: "This [book] doesn't help the team or make his teammates better. Charles turns around and says he didn't say these things and apologizes.

"But how many times can you hit someone over the head before they say they won't accept your apology? He hasn't learned his lesson."

In addition to ripping Katz, Barkley raps Hersey Hawkins for being too passive, Armon Gilliam for being too inconsistent a rebounder, Manute Bol for being "one-dimensional," and wonders why the 76ers would want Charles Shackleford after he was abandoned by the lowly New Jersey Nets.

Realizing he might have offended his teammates, Barkley threatened to stop the release of the book.

Informed that the publisher already had released 60,000 copies, Barkley said: "Roy's job was to make the book controversial to sell a lot of copies. There are a couple of things wrong, but the majority of it is correct and I stick by it."

Katz may have reached the point where he can no longer tolerate his outrageous forward, but with the NBA salary cap, it's difficult swapping a player earning $3 million a year.

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Tightening noose: With a little luck, Bill Fitch might have survived this tumultuous season with the Nets, but his exit may have been hastened last week by the sniping of several of his key players.

Power forward Derrick Coleman, considered one of the team's cornerstones, criticized his coach for playing only 17 minutes in a loss to the Lakers, Dec. 6, and yelled, "You call this coaching?" Rookie guard Kenny Anderson also has rebelled at his reserve status.

"I don't envy being a coach," said center Sam Bowie. "Our personnel is much better than our record [6-15] indicates, and Bill is our leader."

It hardly helped Fitch's cause when the Nets blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead at home Saturday to lose to Charlotte, 109-102.

At least, he got a vote of confidence from Pat Riley, who has winning praise for resurrecting the New York Knicks.

"Fitch is a hell of a coach," said Riley. "I coached against him when he was at Houston, and he took the Rockets to the finals [1986]. He also won a championship in Boston [1981]. He's forgotten more about basketball than I know."

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Timid Wolves: Minnesota fired Bill Musselman for winning 29 games in the second season of an expansion franchise, but the Timberwolves (3-16) will be lucky to match that figure under new coach Jimmy Rodgers.

Noting that his team is averaging 93 points and shooting 42 percent from the field, Rodgers said: "I called it the 'run-and-shoot' offense. I guess I should have said we wanted a 'run-and-score' offense. We get a lot of shots, but we just don't make them."

As Pooh Richardson, the Timberwolves' struggling point guard, told the Philadelphia Inquirer: "It's hard to see the forest for the trees. Miami seemed to be building the right way in getting young players like Rony Seikaly, Glen Rice and Steve Smith. We picked up a lot of veterans. Everyone wonders if we're going in the right direction. It could set us back a couple more years."

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Uniform problems: Washington Bullets center Pervis Ellison forgot his jersey at Saturday night's game against Chicago. But Houston's Sleepy Floyd forgot his uniform pants against San Antonio playing the same night. Wearing warm-up pants on the bench, he noticed the oversight between periods and saved himself from embarrassment and a likely fine.

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