King gave the experiment his blessing. "There was no one ready to jump up and hit someone over the head," said the frizzy philosopher. In boxing, that's progress.
Sneaky Danny Ainge
Mavericks coach Don Nelson is steamed about Danny Ainge's pregame practice of giving scoring officials the lineup card he had used in the previous game and withholding the one he plans to use in the upcoming contest. "The home team is supposed to submit its lineup first, and it's dishonest to do it the way he's been doing it," Nelson says of the Suns' coach. "It's an unwritten code that all coaches go by, but evidently he doesn't believe in it."
During one pregame handshake Nelson told Ainge, "I'll never tell you my starting lineup again." Ainge shot back, "I'd be embarrassed to admit that somebody else's starting lineup bothered me."
Ainge's approach dates to his stint as a TV analyst, when he noticed that Phil Jackson and Pat Riley withheld their lineup cards until moments before game time. "I don't tell opposing coaches who's starting the second quarter," he says. "Why tell them who's starting the first quarter until right before the game?" Looks as if Riley, who's notorious for asking the stats clerk to show him an opponent's lineup before offering his—and who often leaves one spot blank even then—has a rival for the title of NBA Machiavelli.
Garnett's Running Mate
It isn't easy upstaging Kevin Garnett (page 38) on the hardwood, but Ronnie Fields used to do it all the time. Fields, a 6'3" guard with a 40-inch vertical leap to go with the shaved head and number 23 of another high flier, electrified crowds while playing beside Garnett for Chicago's Farragut Academy. Michael Jordan called Fields "a monster talent."
Fields averaged 33 points and 12 rebounds as a Farragut senior and ranked among the top recruits in the nation. He committed to DePaul in '96. But that February, two days before Fields's 19th birthday—driving a car he'd borrowed from a Farragut assistant coach—he crashed and broke his neck. He recovered, but then, only two days after De-Paul rejected him because his high school grades and SAT scores were too low, he sexually abused a woman in the apartment of the same Farragut assistant (who was out of town). Fields pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and served 15 days on work detail and two years probation.
Like Garnett, Fields never played college ball. Unlike Garnett, Fields has spent the past three years in the CBA and the International Basketball Association, a minor league still further down the pro hoops food chain. "Yeah, I have regrets," he says, preempting the obvious question. "I regret getting into trouble. But it's just a matter of time for me to get there."
There is the NBA. For all his ups and downs, the 22-year-old Fields is just three years removed from being crowned Illinois's high school Mr. Basketball. He averaged 14 points for the CBA's Rockford Lightning this season. He recently worked out for the Nets and hopes to play in one of the NBA's summer leagues.