Reinsdorf wants running of Bulls to continue Possible breakup depends on players, owner says

NBA Finals notebook

June 14, 1998|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

It appears that if the Chicago Bulls win another title, team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf will roll out the red carpet and welcome back all the key principals. The question is will they want to return? During an interview with NBC during halftime of Friday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Reinsdorf said he does not want to be the person to break up the Bulls.

"We hope that this is not the end of this run," Reinsdorf said. "Of course, it's not totally up to me. Michael, Scottie and seven other players are free agents. They have their own decisions to make in respect of their families. But I don't want to be the person that breaks up the Chicago Bulls as long as they're winning championships."

Michael Jordan, who had spoken much of the season about possible retirement, is more and more expressing a desire to play next season. Dennis Rodman has already said he'd return.

It appears the breakup is all contingent on Scottie Pippen, who has expressed bitterness toward the organization for not renegotiating his contract that ends after this season. Early last week, Pippen said he'd keep his options open about a possible return to Chicago -- but days later he said he misspoke and won't play here.

That could be posturing on the part of Pippen, hoping to drive up his asking price from the team that can pay him the best.

"Well, we will certainly want to sit down with Scottie when we're allowed to do it," Reinsdorf said. "Obviously, Scottie is very, very important to Michael because he knows that Scottie is the perfect complement to him, and I think if Scottie were not to return that might have an impact on Michael's decision."

Jordan has indicated he will make a decision later this summer.

Malone vs. Rodman

Haven't seen enough of the duel between Karl Malone and Rodman? There will be even more to the battle after the season, as The Salt Lake Tribune reported yesterday: the two will participate in a tag-team match on a pay-per-view wrestling card on July 12 in San Diego.

Rodman's partner in the match will be Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Malone will fight alongside Randy "The Macho Man" Savage, or Diamond Dallas Page.

Rodman was in the midst of controversy last week when he skipped practice on Monday, and later that evening appeared on a wrestling card in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Bulls forward was fined $10,000 by the league for missing a media availability session.

Malone's a big wrestling fan as is his mother, Shirley Turner.

Cold hand Luc

Luc Longley's woes during the Finals continued on Friday with a six-point, seven-rebound, 23-minute outing. Longley has had trouble guarding Malone throughout the series, and has not scored in double figures since the opener.

"My main project is Luc; let him forget about the game," Jordan said, on what he would do to inspire the team. "Unfortunately, he didn't have a great game [Friday] and a lot of people are going to look to him as the reason why we didn't win. And that's unfortunate for Luc.

"We've won with Luc, and we've lost with Luc, and I will not give up on Luc," Jordan said. "He just had a bad night. Now, he's got to go out and get drunk and forget about it."

Numbers game

With a 28-point game on Friday, Jordan has now scored at least 20 points in 34 straight NBA Finals games.

Pippen has 65 steals for the NBA Finals, moving him to second on the all-time list past Larry Bird (63).

Chicago has not scored over 100 points against Utah in 11 NBA Finals games dating back to last year. In fact the last time Chicago scored 100 in a Finals game was the opening game of the 1996 series against Seattle, a 107-90 win.

Pub Date: 6/14/98

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