Rodman rebounds with critics, too Bulls' chairman of boards wins over O'Neal, Karl

June 09, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- It was an attack so personal that even Dennis Rodman had to seek out the source before Friday's second game of the NBA Finals in Chicago. The attack was unleashed by Seattle SuperSonics coach George Karl, who was not thrilled by Rodman's performance in Game 1.

"It's silly to give him any credibility for what he does," Karl said of Rodman on Thursday. "His flopping and laughing at the respect of basketball is ludicrous."

There's no question that Rodman flops. There's no question that, through his antics, he laughs at the authority of basketball. But there's also no question he's the best rebounder in the game, and Rodman made Karl eat some of those words after his 20-rebound performance in Friday's 92-88 win at the United Center that gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that resumes here tonight at Key Arena.

"Give Dennis Rodman his due, he had a [heck] of a game," Karl said. "He's an amazing rebounder."

Of Rodman's 20 rebounds, 11 came on the offensive boards, tying an NBA Finals record. Seven of those came during the third quarter when the Bulls increased a one-point lead to 11.

Rodman continued his aggressive play in the fourth quarter, and even hit the key free throw in the final seconds -- just after getting his hands on a missed free throw by Scottie Pippen to help clinch the game.

"I give him a lot of credit, I think he came in with a lot of heart -- especially down the stretch," teammate Michael Jordan said. HTC "The rebounding he has done has made the difference not just in the Finals, but all through the playoffs.

"Dennis came to Chicago with one purpose in mind, and that was to rebound and get us the championship," Jordan added. "We've tried to support him offensively."

Maybe Karl's comments woke up Rodman after a 13-rebound performance in Game 1 that -- while above the standards for most players -- is considered a subpar game in the mind of the 6-foot-8 power forward.

Karl was upset that Sonics forward Frank Brickowski was thrown out of Game 1 after being called for a flagrant foul against Rodman, and then arguing the call. Rodman earlier had been called for a technical, and many saw the move by Brickowski as an attempt to goad him into a second one -- and ejection.

"The only way I'm getting baited is if I'm fishing," Rodman said. "It wasn't going to work."

As strange as many people suspect Rodman to be, he's a very calculating individual.

"You have to use your head, you have to be smart," Rodman said. "During the playoffs, this is all mental now. Not physical, not athleticism, but mental. These games are about who has the tricks in their bag."

Rodman, who won two NBA rings with the Detroit Pistons, used those tricks against Shaquille O'Neal and the Orlando Magic in ++ the conference finals. He called O'Neal's offensive game "predictable" and said the young star had yet to accomplish anything. O'Neal initially dismissed Rodman as a "gimmick," but, like Karl, in the end he was singing a different tune.

"He's a good defensive player and a good rebounder, and he did a good job against us," O'Neal said after Orlando was swept.

The gimmick tag comes from Rodman's multi-colored hairstyles (his current creation contains symbols of the peace and love signs, the AIDS symbol, the rock group Pearl Jam and the gay and lesbian symbol).

"It represents all the people that people won't have anything to do with," Rodman said.

But before you dismiss Rodman's eccentricities, consider that with the Pistons he had established himself as the game's top rebounder -- and could not cash in off the court. By changing his hair color, having tattoos plastered all over his body, dressing in drag and making outrageous comments, Rodman has numerous endorsements, a popular television show in Chicago and a best-selling book. Some have said he has even done the impossible: become as popular in Chicago as Jordan.

"We all have demons," Jordan said. "We all have things we'd love to do, but don't. Some people live their dreams through Dennis. It's amazing."

Jordan could not care less what Rodman does off the court, as long as he performs on it.

"I never tried to crowd Dennis, I don't want to infringe on him personally," Jordan said. "It's fine as long as when we step on the court we have the same interest -- to win a championship."

For Rodman, this is better than 1989 and '90 with the Pistons.

"In Detroit, I didn't appreciate it back then because I was caught up being behind Isiah Thomas and others," Rodman said. "Now I have my own little thing, and with Chicago and Michael there's more to appreciate.

"In the summer you work out and dream of being in this position," Rodman added. "This is where I dream to be."

NBA Finals

Chicago vs. Seattle

+ (Chicago leads series, 2-0)

Day .. .. .. .. ..Site/result .. . .. .. ..Time

.. .. .. .. .. .. ..(Line)

Game 1 .. .. .. ..Chicago, 107-90

Game 2 .. .. .. ..Chicago, 92-88

Tonight .. .. .. .at Seattle (+2) .. .. ..7: 30

Wednesday .. .. ..at Seattle .. .. .. .. .. ..9

Friday* .. .. .. .at Seattle .. .. .. .. .. ..9

June 16* .. .. ...at Chicago .. .. .. .. .7: 30

June 19* .. .. ...at Chicago .. .. .. .. .. ..9

TV: All games on chs. 11, 4

*-If necessary

Going to the glass

A list of the most offensive rebounds in a game by an individual in the NBA Finals:

11 -- Dennis Rodman, Chicago vs. Seattle, June 7, 1996.

11 -- Elvin Hayes, Washington at Seattle, May 27, 1979.

10 -- Marvin Webster, Seattle vs. Washington, June 7, 1978.

10 -- Robert Reid, Houston vs. Boston, May 10, 1981.

10 -- Moses Malone, Houston vs. Boston, May 14, 1981.

Pub Date: 6/09/96

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