Worm's not nearly as bad as Bulls want him to be
Jun. 07, 1997
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ No flagrant fouls. No technicals. No head-first dives into the stands. No mind games. No referee baiting. No flops to draw offensive charges. Nothing.
Dennis Rodman has been worse than bad in the NBA Finals. He's been boring.
The Worm promised Saturday that things will get a lot more interesting, starting with Game 4 Sunday at the Delta Center.
``I didn't have any energy. I wasn't doing the things I normally do. I just let the team down completely,'' said Rodman, who played 24 scoreless minutes and grabbed only three rebounds Friday as the Bulls let the Utah Jazz back in the series after winning the first two games in Chicago.
``I've got to be wild and crazy and do the nutty things that got me in this position,'' he said. ``I'm just trying to show everybody I'm being a good guy. But I've got to do my thing.''
He has only five offensive rebounds all series and hasn't been a defensive presence. And, he said, ``I'm not even trying to get in anybody's head.''
Rodman hasn't been an instigator, as he so often was in leading the NBA in rebounding for the sixth consecutive season despite drawing 25 technical fouls. He hasn't been the same Worm who received at least one ``T'' in each of Chicago's first 13 playoff games. He isn't playing the same way he did in last year's finals, when his flopping and antics clearly bothered Seattle.
Has the man whose autobiography is titled ``Bad As I Wanna Be'' been too good?
``I like him just like he is,'' Utah's Antoine Carr said. ``I don't want him getting too active, just relax and come up with those great hair colors.''
Indeed, the only interesting thing about Rodman has been his latest dye-job, featuring blotches of magenta, blue, green, yellow, red and orange.
``No matter what _ if I foul out or if I get technicals _ I've got to do those things that spark me and get this team going. I'm the sparkplug of this team and I haven't been doing anything,'' Rodman said.
``I've got to hit something ... the mascot or somebody. I've got to do something to get my act together.''
Maybe not the mascot, but how about the Mailman?
Bulls coach Phil Jackson said Rodman will be the primary defender against league MVP Karl Malone. Rodman mostly has guarded Utah's centers while Chicago's centers have gone against Malone. The strategy worked in the first two games, when Malone shot 38 percent, but Malone destroyed the Bulls in Game 3 with 37 points.
``Dennis has been hiding out. I don't know where he's been, but I don't think this is the real Dennis Rodman,'' Jackson said. ``We're going to get him going.''
Rodman, who prides himself on performing well in the playoffs after enduring the ``meaningless'' regular season, said: ``I'm not afraid of Karl Malone.''
``I'm going to make him miss shots and commit some offensive fouls,'' he said. ``If I can foul him hard and do the things to get me going ... I've got to get more involved. If I don't, we're not going to win this series.''
Malone, who usually plays well against Rodman, isn't concerned.
``I didn't come into this series thinking it was a Karl Malone-Dennis Rodman thing,'' he said. ``I'm not going to get caught up in any sideshows.''
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, always quick to criticize Rodman when he gets untimely technical fouls, are now pining for the old Worm.
``He didn't bring what we need _ the toughness, the intensity, the energy,'' Pippen said. ``He knows we need him.''
Said Jordan: ``He certainly didn't have his normal enthusiasm. We expect that in the next game.''
Rodman can sense his teammates' disappointment even though they haven't expressed it to him.
``I can feel the vibe and tension ... they see I'm not performing,'' he said. ``No one's taking it as hard as I am. It's kind of difficult for me to let Michael and Scottie get beat up. I'm supposed to be the third wheel of this train, and I haven't been pulling my weight.''
Malone played much better Friday after taking a long motorcycle ride before the game. It sounds like a good plan to Rodman.
``I need to go rent a bike and ride in the hills and try to find Dennis Rodman. If anybody sees Dennis Rodman in Crobar,'' he said, referring to his favorite Chicago bar, ``tell him to bring his butt to Utah.''