Join Date: Jan 2011
Re: RODMAN vs SHAQ... Legendary Defense
CHAMPS ARE STILL YOUNG AT HEART
Chicago Tribune - December 18, 1996
Author: Bernie Lincicome.
The weather outside was frightful, but inside the United Center, it felt a lot like June.
There is still a winter and most of a spring to get through, and there is no certainty that it will be the Lakers on the other end, but if this was a preview of the Finals, the wait will be worth it This one deserved to be a playoff definer, a Game 7, a keeper for the ages, not just another game to vanish into the regular-season pile, not just another 22-point comebacking, Kukoc -glorifying, Rodman-romping, Shaq-squishing midweek victory. In overtime.
"Chicago showed why they are champions," said Lakers coach Del Harris.
If the Lakers came to make a statement to the defending champions, it may be that they will be waiting, but it should be that the next time the Lakers promise to bring their hearts with them.
"My heart goes out to Los Angeles," said Phil Jackson, a generous offer but not made until after the Bulls had won, 129-123.
The Lakers lost this game from 22 up in the first half, from 19 up in the fourth quarter, from so far in front that they couldn't hear Toni Kukoc explode.
"He's a firecracker," said Jackson. "You never know when he is going to go off."
With Michael Jordan mired in ordinariness, Kukoc --and Scottie Pippen as well--rescued the Bulls . Kukoc hit six three-point shots and finished with 31 off-the-bench points. Pippen had 35 points and Jordan 30.
"I just got hot, they gave me the ball and I kept shooting," Kukoc said.
The Bulls still have Houston ahead to measure themselves against, and a rematch with Utah. In the East, Miami has yet to be dismissed, and the Knicks await.
But this was a game that could tell the Bulls what lies ahead, how they stand against the half-dozen teams that may be able to keep them from defending their championship.
And yet they started the game without the required fire, allowing the Lakers to dominate inside and outside, preferring to whine about the officiating while Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones were streaking in for layups.
"You learn from this how champions fight to the end," said Jones.
Dennis Rodman seemed the most disinterested of the Bulls , playing indifferent defense on Elden Campbell and smoldering at the officials, once needing Jordan to put himself between Rodman and one of the refs. Rodman can turn a tiny pique into a giant rage in an instant.
The lesson should not be lost on Rodman. Had he been tossed early, he could not have made the difference he did at the end on Shaquille O'Neal.
O'Neal looked out of uniform in the purple and gold of the Lakers , but in the end he was the same Shaq of Orlando.
The new West Coast O'Neal was all ankles and mischief early, using either muscle or moves as necessary, toying with whomever the Bulls put on him.
Bill Wennington on O'Neal was like tissue on a sneeze. Wennington couldn't stop what was coming; he could merely absorb it.
Rodman took over in the fourth quarter, and O'Neal reverted to his familiar inadequacy, becoming so frustrated that after Rodman had grabbed the rebound of O'Neal's second critical free-throw miss, O'Neal shoved Rodman without censure.
Alertly, both Jordan and Pippen grabbed Rodman as if he had been aggressor, tackling him to the floor, Jordan choking Rodman, a happy mugging as it turns out. The three of them arose, laughing.
"This was a game of pride and desire," Pippen said. "We never thought we would lose. They are a young team that hasn't had the experience we have had down the stretch."
"Emotionally it took all our hearts and energy to win this one," said Jackson.
Los Angeles might want to take notes for later."
"Dennis did it to Shaq in the playoffs and repeated the feat here.
Dennis Rodman's physical and theatrical approach to defense, which helped take Shaquille O'Neal out of last spring's Eastern Conference Finals, frustrated the All-Star center again Tuesday when Rodman's Chicago Bulls rallied for a 129-123 overtime victory over O'Neal's Lakers.
After O'Neal scored 23 of his 27 points in the first half, Bulls coach Phil Jackson did what he wanted to avoid - switching the volatile Rodman, who stands just 6-foot-6, onto the 7-1, 330-pound monster.
That move and a full-court press that took the Lakers out of their rhythm, limited O'Neal to just two shots in the fourth quarter and none in overtime. After a basket with 6:52 left in the third quarter, Shaq didn't score again.
``Dennis thought he could handle Shaq straight up,'' Jackson explained.
Rodman rarely talks after games but did let reporters know what he thinks of O'Neal after Monday's practice.
``I mean, $120 million?'' Rodman said. ``No way in hell. If I was an owner, no way in hell I'd ever pay a man $120 million if he's not the total package. I wouldn't do it.''
Before the game, O'Neal insisted that he had no trouble against Rodman, saying: ``Dennis is too light in the (butt) to play me one-on-one. You all know that.''