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Pro Basketball

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Magic angered by Rodman 'circus'

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Posted: Friday February 19, 1999 08:29 PM

  Rodman professes he will make up his mind by Monday at the latest. Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) -- An exasperated Magic Johnson says Dennis Rodman is "trying to hold us hostage," and the Los Angeles Lakers should forget about signing him.

Johnson said the uncertainty surrounding Rodman's situation has damaged the image of the team he led to five NBA championships during the 1980s.

And that uncertainty continued Friday as Rodman, appearing on ESPN's "Up Close," said he still hasn't made a definite decision as to whether he's going to play this season or not.

"If I play basketball, it will be between two teams, the Lakers or Miami, and the odds are that's going to happen within the next 48 hours," Rodman said.

Rodman said he would announce a decision by Monday at the latest, but that might not mean much, since he was quoted by the Chicago Sun-Times in Thursday's editions as saying he would sign with the Lakers either Thursday or Friday.

And he reportedly decided a week ago to play for the Lakers.

"I'm tired of this. I am," Johnson, a part-owner and vice president of the Lakers, said on David Letterman's show Thursday night. "I'm going to say this tonight and I've been holding it. It's like a circus now.

"We are a first-class organization. We do things the right way, and right now, he's like trying to hold us hostage. ... He's driving me crazy because he's hurting the team, he's hurting the organization, so I would love us just to say forget it."

So far, that hasn't been the case. Team spokesman John Black said Thursday the Lakers weren't ready to issue an ultimatum to the flamboyant seven-time rebounding champion, who met with team owner Jerry Buss on Wednesday night.

The Lakers can sign Rodman only for the veteran minimum of $1 million, prorated to $600,000 for the shortened season and diminishing further with each game he misses.

However, Rodman will receive $3 million in a deal with Converse if he plays in Los Angeles, Chicago or New York.

At a shootaround Friday, several hours before the Lakers faced the San Antonio Spurs at the Forum, Black said he didn't expect any action Friday on Rodman.

Jerry West, the team's vice president of basketball operations, said he knew of no developments and was tired of talking about it.

The Lakers first expressed interest in Rodman more than two weeks ago, and it was reported last weekend he had decided to play for them.

Rodman, who turns 38 in May, played on championship teams in Chicago the last three seasons.

Rodman told "Up Close" host Gary Miller he was the most popular and recognized individual in the world today besides former teammate Michael Jordan, who announced his retirement last month.

Rodman also said he believed Jordan "understands who Dennis Rodman really is."

Rodman also acknowledged that he has had differences with Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal, but that it wouldn't make any difference if he joined the Lakers.

"We've had words, we've bashed each other here and there," Rodman said. "Like I said in Chicago with Michael and Scottie [Pippen], I don't give a damn if these guys like me or not. I'm here to do a job. When the game is over, we go our separate ways."

The Lakers certainly could use Rodman. Power forward Robert Horry, diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat last Sunday, didn't play against the Spurs and will miss at least three more games.

Black said Horry will wear a monitor Monday and Tuesday before being evaluated, meaning the earliest he could return is Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers play at Seattle on Sunday, at Denver on Monday night, and at Vancouver on Tuesday night.

The Lakers reached the 12-player limit Friday by placing rookies Sam Jacobson and Tyronn Lue on the injured list. Jacobson broke his left ring finger during pregame warmups Wednesday night; Lue has back spasms.

 
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