CHICAGO -- When the Chicago Bulls tripped over the Phoenix Suns in triple overtime here Sunday, ruining their chances for a sweep of the 1993 NBA Finals, at least one cynical columnist, Steve Rosenbloom, of the Chicago Sun-Times, hinted at a conspiracy to extend the series for the benefit of NBC, which gains $10 million in advertising sales with a guaranteed fifth game.
Rosenbloom protested the presence of officiating chief Darell Garretson and noted the disparity in free throws in Game 3 -- 31 for the visiting Suns to only nine for the Bulls -- in arguing his case.
With the ratings for the finals the third-highest ever, Rosenbloom suggested a possible sixth game in Phoenix this Sunday would put the NBA head-to-head against CBS' "60 Minutes," the ratings leader.
NBA officials have been angered by the conspiracy talk, and even the players seem disturbed.
"I don't believe there is any truth in this [conspiracy theory]," said Suns guard Danny Ainge. "Every team I've played on has been paranoid that somebody is controlling it, the officials and the NBA and NBC."
The Washington Bullets, who own the sixth pick in the June 30 NBA draft, will invite Nevada-Las Vegas swingman J. R. Rider, Indiana forward Calbert Cheaney and Wake Forest forward Rodney Rogers for private workouts and talks this week.
One of the three will almost certainly be available when the Bullets' turn comes. Washington is reportedly leaning to Rider because of his explosive offensive skills.
On the coaching front, Bullets assistant Bill Blair received permission to talk to Indiana Pacers general manager Donnie Walsh about joining Larry Brown's staff next season.
Reserve Bulls center Scott Perdue was visibly upset about riding the bench during the first three games of the championship series. During the regular season, he appeared in 72 games, averaging 13.9 minutes and 4.7 points.
"It was real frustrating Sunday, sitting through three overtimes, especially with a couple of our guys looking tired," he said. "I'm willing to go in there and give a guy a rest for a minute or two, anything to help us win. It seems every year I've been here, the deeper we get into the playoffs, the less I play."
Magic Johnson, serving as a game analyst for NBC, is part of an investment group seeking an expansion NBA team in Toronto. He has two other competitors.
"My main goal right now is to see that Toronto gets the best franchise possible," said the former Lakers star, who rejected a coaching offer from the L.A. Clippers when he could not become a team investor. "Our Toronto group already has the right to build a new arena. If we get the team, I'll be the president, general manager, everything."
Bulls power forward Horace Grant says he relishes his physical matchup with the Suns' Charles Barkley.
"Charles is King Kong Bundy and I'm The Undertaker," said Grant. "Whoever outlasts his opponent wins the match."
Said Barkley: "Horace is a good guy, someone I enjoy playing against. He comes to play every day, and I respect that."