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Tired of antics, Lakers waive Rodman
Posted: Friday April 16, 1999 10:12 AM
Rodman reacted to being released Thursday night by calling himself a scapegoat for the team's problems, and said the Lakers were "cowards not to take the fall for some of the things that have happened this year."
The Lakers issued a statement saying they were finished with Rodman in the wake of another in a long list of incidents involving the eccentric forward earlier in the day.
Desperate to win their first NBA title since 1988, the Lakers figured Rodman, a member of five championship teams,including the last three with the Chicago Bulls, was just what they needed to put them over the top.
In his final game, they bottomed out, losing 113-86 at Portland on Tuesday night.
But that wasn't the last straw. That apparently occurred when Rodman, according to coach Kurt Rambis, showed up late for the team's practice at Los Angeles Southwest College on Thursday morning, and was slow getting ready because he couldn't find his socks and shoes.
Rambis later told reporters he told Rodman to go home, and said the team was through with its special treatment of the NBA's leading rebounder in each of the last seven seasons.
"At this time we feel it's in the best interests of the Lakers to end the relationship," Lakers vice president Jerry West said in the statement issued Thursday night. "This obviously didn't work out like we had hoped, but we would like to thank Dennis for the contributions he did make to the team and wish him the best of luck in the future."
Rodman, who turns 38 next month, signed with the Lakers on Feb. 23 and played his first game three days later. He averaged 2.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and 28.6 minutes.
The Lakers won their first 11 games with Rodman in uniform, but were 6-6 since that time with him playing. They are 8-9 without him.
Rodman told Fox Sports News late Thursday night that the Lakers "have to have a fall guy, and I'm basically the fall guy."
"A lot of people will criticize my attitude and my dedication to the game of basketball, but, you know, it doesn't surprise me," he said. "I didn't really miss practices. Today, I didn't miss practice. Today, he [Rambis] asked me, 'Do you need treatment?' I was there 10 minutes early before practice, and he told me to take the day off and all of a sudden I'm like, great, you know? "... I wanted to come here and win and play here. It didn't turn out that way. I don't know what I'm going to do right know. It's one of those deals. If they want to make me the fall guy, I will be the fall guy. I don't expect anything else."
Rodman did say he wanted to apologize to fans in Los Angeles, adding, "I hope that they don't look at me as a bad individual. I hope I'm still loved by people here in the state of California."
Rodman also said he would consider playing for another team this season.
"It depends on if somebody wants to take a chance on having a guy like me on a team that can win a championship, I will go and play with them," he said.
After reportedly refusing to return to a game in the fourth quarter on March 12 because his right elbow was sore, Rodman was late to practice the following day, and when he did show up, he said he needed time off to deal with personal problems.
He missed four games before returning eight days later for a nationally televised game in Orlando. While he was gone, he was spotted gambling in Las Vegas.
Rodman's paid leave of absence perhaps stemmed from problems with his wife, actress Carmen Electra, although he denied that upon his return.
However, Rodman and Electra announced jointly April 6 they had filed for divorce.
According to Rambis, Rodman also refused to return to games in the fourth quarter on March 26 and last Friday, saying his muscles had tightened up. He was late for practice the following day both times.
Rodman didn't play in the second half in Portland on Tuesday night, claiming he had an injured elbow. He had four rebounds in 13 minutes before being taken out with 2:31 left before halftime.
The Lakers didn't practice Wednesday, setting the stage for Thursday's incident.
"You want to know the truth? I was shocked when they put him on their team," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said after his team beat the Los Angeles Clippers 103-89 Thursday night for its ninth straight victory.
The Jazz, who beat the Lakers in the Western Conference finals last spring, will attempt to extend the winning streak against the Lakers on Saturday night in a nationally televised game at the Delta Center.
"From what I heard, Jerry West didn't have much to do with it [bringing Rodman in]," Sloan said. "I understand someone else wanted him, so they got him."
Sloan was referring to Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
Clippers guard Sherman Douglas said the Lakers knew what they were getting when they signed Rodman.
"What did you expect? Did he do anything differently than he did before? No," Douglas said. "He used to miss practice, he used to irritate people, still does. "I guess the Lakers weren't ready for that. That's why they got rid of him, plain and simple."
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