SI Vault
Edited by Alexander Wolff and Christian Stone
June 19, 1995
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June 19, 1995


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What Happened

Second round, Game 1, Indiana at New York

Score tied :13.2 to go

Knickjohn Starks misses two

Second round, Game 2, Los Angeles at San Antonio

Score tied :04.6 to go

Laker Vlade Divac misses tiwo

Second round, Game 1, Chicago at Orlando

Magic up two 1:37 to go

Bull Michael Jordan misses two

Second round, Game 5, Houston at Phoenix

Suns up one 2:16 to go

Sun Charles Barkley misses two

Conference finals, Game 1, Houston at San Antonio

Spurs up one :26.5 to go

Spur Sean Elliott misses two

Conference finals, Game 6, San Antonio at Houston

Rockets up four 1:06 to go

Spur David Robinson misses two

Next Question

This one comes from the At-Least-He-Didn't-Ask-Where-the-Buffet-Line-Starts Department: During a press conference last Thursday to brief journalists about Mickey Mantle's liver transplant (page 104), one reporter asked Dr. Goran Klintmalm of Baylor University Medical Center, "Is that donor alive?"

To which Klintmalm replied, "You're a sports journalist, aren't you?"

Forget Jake

It could have been a scene from...well, from a corny Billy Crystal movie: An NBA ref, presumably bothered by some nonbasketball matter, ejects a big-name player simply for looking sideways at a call. But during Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal series between the Houston Rockets and the Phoenix Suns on May 9, it wasn't fictional ref Mickey Gordon, played by Crystal, giving Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the heave-ho, as Gordon does in the current romantic comedy Forget Paris. It was Jake O'Donnell, by most accounts the best official in the NBA, calling two quick technical fouls on Rocket guard Clyde Drexler for mouthing off and tossing him from the game. More than a month has now passed since that incident, and O'Donnell, who has worked every NBA Finals since 1972, hasn't been seen since. According to The Houston Chronicle, the NBA rescinded Drexler's automatic $1,000 fine and benched O'Donnell for the remainder of the playoffs, in apparent acknowledgment that O'Donnell overreacted. According to the Chronicle, O'Donnell had had several run-ins with Drexler in the past and had refused to shake hands with him before Game 1. Neither the NBA, O'Donnell nor Drexler has commented on the reports.

It's conceivable that an NBA ref could let personality differences affect a call. Given the size of the players, the pace of the game and the stress generated by 20,000 screaming partisans, NBA officials have one of the most demanding jobs in sports. Indeed, while attending a recent private screening of Forget Paris with SI reporter Marty Burns, veteran NBA ref Dick Bavetta had this to say about the scene in the movie in which Gordon tosses Kareem: "It was somewhat realistic. As a ref, it's your job to leave that stuff behind when you step onto the court. But in reality it's very difficult. There's no way you can go out there and not take those problems with you. It's a gut-wrenching part of the job."

It's worth noting that when Crystal was making Forget Paris, he hired an actual NBA ref to help lend verisimilitude to his on-the-court scenes. The adviser: Jake O'Donnell.

Retired Generals

After a run of 43 years and some 8,000 consecutive losses to the same team, Washington General owner and coach Red Klotz (SI, Feb. 20) fired his entire roster last week, citing the Harlem Globetrotters' need for a "new and stronger" opponent. Says Klotz, "The Globetrotter team has become so strong in the past two years that [Globetrotter owner Mannie Jackson] has challenged me to upgrade our program."

To that end, Klotz has begun scouring the globe for players who will form a new team to be called, dubiously, the International All-Stars. "I'm looking for the right combination of big men with strong rebounding talent and backcourt leaders with an outside shooting touch," says Klotz. But we know better. Translation from the original Klotzese: Give me 12 guys who won't flinch when they're having their drawers pulled down while they're shooting free throws.

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