Van Gundy obsession: running of Bulls


March 07, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

After New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said last month that Michael Jordan "cons" younger players into a false sense of security, the league's best player scorched the Knicks for 51 points and gave Van Gundy an earful after several baskets.

Van Gundy is not repeating the comments heading into Sunday's game against Chicago at Madison Square Garden, but he recently gave insight why he did what's almost unthinkable -- question Jordan's motives.

"I finally admitted to myself the other day: I am absolutely obsessed by [the Bulls]," Van Gundy said. "I think about Chicago every day. I admire them so much and the standard they set for this league -- I want this team to get to that level."

Van Gundy is offering no apologies about what he said about Jordan [although he does regret calling Bulls coach Phil Jackson 'Big Chief Triangle,' alluding to the Chicago offense].

"I won't apologize for my beliefs. But if I had to do it over again, I don't think it reflects well on myself as I want to project myself," Van Gundy said. "Even though I want to be honest, sometimes you have to temper your honesty."

The Knicks play the Bulls better than any team in the league, which should make for an interesting game. It appears both teams will be at full strength, but Dennis Rodman still has a game to play against Indiana on Friday. The last time Rodman played he earned yet another suspension, the latest being one game for hitting Joe Wolf in Monday's win over Milwaukee.

Jordan, for one, is not pleased with the continued antics of Rodman, whose hit on Wolf may have ruined any chance he had of returning to Chicago next season. Read between the lines when Jordan is asked to compare Rodman and Horace Grant, a player who criticized Jordan while in Chicago.

"Certainly, Dennis gets the edge in rebounding. But Horace had the rebounding, the defense and the offense -- and the mental aspect," Jordan said. "You could count on him every night. You know he's not going to go off."

76ers' Davis on thin ice

With the Philadelphia 76ers having the fourth-worst record in the league (15-44 after last night's loss to Atlanta), the chances are slim that Johnny Davis will return as coach next season. And Davis may have sealed his fate last week when he benched the team's player of the future, rookie Allen Iverson.

Davis didn't just do it once, he did it twice. Against Phoenix last Wednesday, Iverson was on the bench for a stretch of 14 minutes over the third and fourth quarters, being replaced by Rex Walters.

"I'm sure there will be plenty more nights like this in my career," Iverson said, after being scorched by Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson.

Two nights later, against the Vancouver Grizzlies, Walters played the entire fourth quarter. Davis said Walters was doing a better job of getting the low-post players the ball in an eventual 76ers win.

"I was upset," Iverson said. "It's something that's bothering me. The game was tight, and when that's what's happening, I need to be on the floor. I'm the starting point guard. It's not something I'm satisfied with."

With the way coaches are getting bounced these days because of unhappy players, Iverson's dissatisfaction probably won't extend beyond this season.

Around the league

When Detroit beat Boston last Friday, it marked the first time in NBA history that the Celtics were swept by the Pistons. Not that beating Boston means anything these days, but the Pistons are pleased by the 4-0 sweep. "That tells me we've come full circle," Joe Dumars said. "What a great accomplishment."

Portland Trail Blazers guard J.R. Rider missed the team plane to Phoenix on Tuesday, but got to the team hotel on Wednesday. Then Rider missed the team bus to the arena. The result was that coach P.J. Carlesimo benched him for the entire game, a victory.

Pistons coach Doug Collins was standing in line to see a movie last week when a fan approached him and said "I'd like to see you start beating the good teams in the league." Collins was somewhat stunned, given that the Pistons have the second-best record in the league, and have beaten every team this season except Miami and Chicago.

Remember two years ago when Kendall Gill left the Seattle SuperSonics, claiming he had depression and had been prescribed lithium? Gill, now with the New Jersey Nets, said the story was fabricated so he could get away from Sonics coach George Karl. "If you remember my statement, it said I had 'symptoms' of depression," Gill said. "And I did have those symptoms, like fatigue and sleeplessness. But I wasn't depressed. The truth is: I had to leave. The way things were going, I felt like I was going to get physical with [Karl]."

Jerry Bembry can be reached on the Internet at

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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