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A form of insanity is spreading through the NBA like a virus, threatening to infect every team in the league. Alarmingly, its carriers, pouting prima donnas who commit the most outrageous acts of rebellion, include some of the league's younger stars. There is a new outbreak nearly every week, with yet another player skipping practice, refusing his coach's orders to go into a game, demanding a trade or finding some new and creative way to act unprofessionally. Fines are levied, suspensions imposed, but such measures are nothing in the face of the epidemic. The lunacy is contagious. Madness reigns.
How absurd has it become? Consider New Jersey Net guard Rex Walters's thumbnail sketch of his team. "Let's see," says Walters. "We've got one millionaire who won't tie a 10-cent pair of shoelaces when the coach tells him to, an even richer millionaire who complains because he doesn't want to wear a tie on a plane, a couple of players who say they want to be traded every other day and a couple more who only seem to come to practice when they feel like it. If you're writing about us, I hope your name is Sigmund Freud, because this is the craziest group of guys you're going to find."
Then Walters pauses for a moment before adding a telling afterthought. "But hey, it's not just us," he says. "Look around the league."
Better yet, don't look around the league, because you won't like what you see. The NBA has more whiny youngsters than a day-care center at nap time. Here-with, a virtual All-Star sampling:
So you thought you'd seen it all when Chicago Bull forward Scottie Pippen staged his sit-down strike in the final 1.8 seconds of a playoff game against the Knicks last year? It turns out that that was just a warmup for this season. "I don't think there's a team in the league that doesn't have attitude problems right now," says Seattle SuperSonic veteran center Sam Perkins.