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The NBA
Jackie MacMullan
February 02, 1998
Hard Lessons
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February 02, 1998

The Nba

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9:52 p.m.
The Rockets fall 117-112 in overtime, their fourth straight loss. In Toronto, Stoudamire has 36 points, including the decisive basket, in a rare 99-98 Raptors win.

10:21 p.m.
Barkley says the way his teammates were placed in limbo "is the most horrible situation I've seen in my NBA career. How can you prepare for a game under these circumstances? What are you going to tell Mario and Kevin and those guys? Win one for the team? [The front office owes] it to this team to get this straightened out right away. But obviously some damage has already been done."

2 a.m.
The Rockets' charter arrives in Charlotte. Their bus drops them at the wrong hotel. "Ain't that a perfect way to end this day," Barkley says.

Know the Enemy
SI asked the league's executives and agents to tell us what they thought of each other. The majority of team officials didn't want to play, but 25 of the top agents were more than happy to cast their votes for the best, worst and toughest front-office honchos. Only one—Portland general manager Bob Whitsitt—received votes in all three categories. The ballots, and comments, please:

TOUGHEST
Whitsitt (10 votes): "Announces the bottom line, then says, 'Now you figure it out.' "
Bulls vice president Jerry Krause (7): "A hard sell on almost everything."
Hawks president Stan Kasten (5): "He's as immovable as a 10-ton rock."
Cavaliers president Wayne Embry (2): "When he says no, he means it."

BEST
Lakers vice president Jerry West (14): "Perfect blend of business sense and instincts of an ex-player."
Suns president Jerry Colangelo (3): "His word is gold. One of the few."
Pacers president Donnie Walsh (3): "Always empathetic to the client."
Whitsitt (2): "Is willing to gamble."

WORST
Clippers vice president Elgin Baylor (7): "Disconnected, uninterested, no authority."
Nuggets vice president Allan Bristow (5): "Can be abrasive."
Mavericks vice president Don Nelson (3): "Used to be great. On cruise control now."
Sonics president Wally Walker (3): "Too shortsighted. Leaves guys hanging."
Krause (2): "Living off Jordan and Pippen."
Whitsitt (2): "I've found him to be neither straightforward nor truthful."

Line of the Week
76ers guard Allen Iverson, Jan. 23 against the Trail Blazers: 37 minutes, 10-18 field goals, 2-2 free throws, 22 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 5 steals. Iverson capped off 10 days of exceptional play in a 98-87 Sixers win that had his fingerprints all over it. His most impressive stat: 0 turnovers.

Around the Rim

Sources say that the Warriors called Philadelphia about Joe Smith and would have taken rookie Tim Thomas and a first-round pick. But the Sixers have high hopes for Thomas and no interest in paying free-agent-in-waiting Smith....

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