Thorpe-Collins feud threatens to disrupt Pistons

On the NBA

March 14, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

During his 12-year NBA career, Otis Thorpe has always been thought to be the consummate professional, a player willing to quietly give his all in any way to help a team win.

But there are indications in Detroit that, because of a feud with coach Doug Collins, he has quit on his teammates.

Thorpe has been upset this season because he is not involved more on offense. He had a disagreement with Collins on Feb. 2, and since has basically fallen into the tank. The worst came last week when Thorpe was outscored by Utah's Karl Malone, 41-0.

The rift has gotten so out of hand that Thorpe does not even acknowledge Collins, avoiding huddles and ignoring the coach during huddles. Collins has relayed messages to Thorpe on the court through teammates.

While it has become clear that Thorpe will not return next season, the dispute could not have come at a worst time for the Pistons who, until recently, had the second-best record in the league. If Thorpe and Collins continue to feud, even the talented Grant Hill won't be able to save the Pistons from an early playoff exit.

A game worth watching

Finally, the NBA was able to produce a rare game worth watching from beginning to end. That happened on Sunday when New York stopped the Chicago Bulls, 97-93, and resulted in even more bad blood between teams that don't like each other anyway.

In defeat, several of the Bulls were still not ready to give the Knicks any credit.

"If we had had somebody else scoring besides Michael [Jordan], we would have won the game by 10 points," Rodman said. "But look at New York, they'll still just relying upon Patrick Ewing. That's all they really have. No, they haven't closed any gap on us. When it comes to the playoffs, they'll be two rounds and out. That's basically it. That's why I say I feel sorry for Patrick Ewing because he'll never win a championship."

If these teams meet in the playoffs, the matchup to watch will be between Larry Johnson and Scottie Pippen. Johnson was offended by remarks made earlier this season by Pippen, who said the Knicks lost a lot of toughness when they gave up Anthony Mason for Johnson.

"Scottie's a bum," Johnson said. "He needs to shut his mouth. Mike gives them all the guts. That's Scottie's best play. 'Here you go 23.' "

Pippen, who hit just four of 18 shots, simply reminded writers that Johnson was not on the floor in the fourth quarter when the Knicks won the game.

"We'll see what happens when we play each other again," Pippen said.

Around the league

Rodman, who has a television show on MTV, a shoe and an upcoming movie, has added wrestling to his activities. Rodman will be -- what else -- a bad guy as he teams with Hulk Hogan in a pay-per-view match on July 13. Rodman will wrestle under the nickname "The Worm." Teammate Jason Caffey suggests "Victoria Secret."

"Man, that's just another thing for people to talk about me," Rodman said. "So they'll now say, 'He's doing this and he's doing that. He has no time for basketball and all that Jordan does about 100 times more things than I do and he has plenty of time for basketball."

The Hornets have not lost two in a row since Jan. 10.

Denver Nuggets coach Dick Motta joined Bill Fitch on Tuesday as the second member of the 1,000 loss club among NBA coaches. The Nuggets are 1-8 since trading Mark Jackson just before the trading deadline.

When Golden State Warriors guard Chris Mullin was ejected in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday he stormed off the court -- and took the ball with him. A ballboy had to go retrieve it.

Quotable

Boston Celtics forward Rick Fox, after the Chicago Bulls were given a standing ovation -- and treated like the home team -- in a game in Boston on Tuesday:

"I'm sure a lot [of fans] drifted over to the Bulls. You've got a lot of kids with Jordan jerseys on, and criminals with Rodman jerseys on."

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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