?No taunt. Much better. "The taunting thing is the change I like the most," says Detroit Piston guard Joe Dumars. "The finger-shaking and yelling had no place in the NBA. All it was doing was leading to the next step, which was violence. Now we're just playing basketball."
Good Hair Days
The Spurs are 7-1 since forward Dennis Rodman's return from the suspended list and are looking like a team capable of making some noise come playoff time. Rodman is rebounding ferociously (an average of 11.5 per game and 20.4 per 48 minutes) and playing monster defense. Giddy members of his Alamodome fan club have begun to chant, "Rodman for President." They even liked his Christmas hair color: bright green, with a red male symbol (his hair is now orange).
"I'm a rebel, the black sheep of the NBA, but I do my thing, it works, and it doesn't hurt anyone," he says. "People pay $200 a seat to watch us, I want to give them a show." Adds Rodman, "I'm not just an athlete, I'm an entertainer. I bring laughter."
True, he had the crowd howling on Dec. 27 when he clanged in his first free throw of the season in his 165th minute of action, then implored the crowd to cheer louder. But the same people had not been laughing when Rodman missed the first 17 games this season (during which the Spurs went 8-9) after his refusal to adhere to team rules.
If he doesn't do anything dumb the rest of the year—no guarantees there—Rodman has a chance to join Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to lead the league in rebounding four years in a row. He also has a chance to repeat as the league leader in technical fouls, ejections, three-second violations and delay-of-game penalties. "When I do something stupid, I only hurt myself," he says. But when he doesn't play, he hurts the Spurs.
Line of the Week
This one's the line of the season so far, actually, and it comes out of Sixer forward Tim Perry's performance on Nov. 18 against the Clippers: 11 minutes, 0-0 FG, 0-0 FT, 0-0 Reb, 0 A, 0 PF, 0 TP. That's nine zeros, and such a string is called a "trillion," a term invented by now retired journeyman center Scott Hastings. "I was the king of the two and three trillion," says Hastings (meaning a two-or three-minute stint that produced a string of box-score zeros). Hastings says Magic center Tree Rollins had a 14 trillion while playing in a game for Atlanta many years ago. "It got so bad for me I'd foul, just go to hacking, to avoid [the trillion]," says Hastings. "But an 11 trillion, that's hard. You figure you've got to get one rebound or you'd only have as many as Elvis or any other dead guy."