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CHICAGO (AP) -- Party on. That's what the Chicago Bulls want to do,
celebrate another NBA title.
Play on. That's what the Utah Jazz are seeking, a chance to extend the
season to one final game.
The Bulls will be trying to close out their fifth championship of the
decade tonight in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. They lead 3-2 in the most
competitive of all their championship matchups in the '90s.
``We know it's a long way from over,'' Bulls coach Phil Jackson said.
``We still have one game to win and it's not going to be an easy
Game 7, if necessary, would be played at the United Center on Sunday.
``We face a tough assignment,'' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said, adding his
team must play with more emotion on a floor where the Bulls are 9-1 in
the playoffs and were 39-2 in the regular season.
``There's no reason we can't understand, after 109 games or whatever,
that you've got to rebound and execute,'' Sloan said.
Should Chicago win tonight, it's conceivably the last running of the
current Bulls. Jackson, Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman are all without
contracts for next season.
If Jackson doesn't return, Jordan says he won't, either. Rodman, who
drew an NBA-record $50,000 fine Thursday for derogatory comments about
the Mormon Church, probably won't be back.
Rodman's been ineffective in the series with just 13 points and 35
rebounds, while his endless antics and boorish behavior have worn thin.
Jordan comes off one of the most memorable performances of his brilliant
career. Playing with a stomach virus that left him dehydrated, faint and
nauseous, he summoned up the strength to lead Chicago to a 90-88 Game 5
victory in Salt Lake City.
He scored 38 points, 15 in the final quarter, and hit the game-winning
3-pointer, while looking like he might collapse during his 44-minute
stint. On Thursday, he skipped practice and spent the day in bed,
although he was feeling much better.
``I think it will affect him. He's got to get through a discovery day
and maybe he's going to be weak. We'll still have to watch him
closely,'' Jackson said.
``I recall him playing on a couple of very badly sprained ankles and
with a couple of badly strained backs and necks before. But certainly
nothing as dramatic as the finals,'' Bulls trainer Chip Schaefer said
Thursday. ``I've never seen him look quite that spent before.''
Jordan lost the MVP award this year in a close vote to Utah's Karl
Malone and the debate on whether the best man won has gone on throughout
Malone played poorly in Game 5, getting in foul trouble, missing 10 of
17 shots and -- in a colossal bonehead play -- neglecting to foul
Scottie Pippen in the closing seconds when the Jazz needed to stop the
Malone said there will be no reason for the Jazz to play passively
tonight and they must forget the last loss, one in which they blew a
``If you can't get that kind of effort at this level, and you lose and
go home ... I think some guys should say, `Hey, maybe I don't belong in
this,' '' Malone said.
``If I come out playing aggressive, then they'll (teammates) do the
same.... I'm not going to turn into a bull in a china closet, but I'll
come out a little bit more aggressive.''
History doesn't favor the Jazz, making their first finals appearance.
The finals have been tied at two games apiece 22 times, and the team
that won Game 5 has gone on to win the championship 17 times. In the
other five cases, the team returning home won the final two games (most
recently Houston in 1994 against New York).
``We have two games at home. We think if we can go out and keep playing
the same way we did the other night, our chances are very, very, very
good,'' Bulls guard Ron Harper said.
Chicago turned up the defense in the fourth quarter and played well
against the Jazz's pick-and-roll offense, forcing Malone to take shots a
few feet from where he feels comfortable.
The Bulls also contained John Stockton, holding him to 13 points and
``We need to continue handling their picks and rolls, hit our shots and
get more penetration,'' Bulls center Luc Longley said.
And if things don't seem to be going well, the Bulls will do what they
always do -- give the ball to Jordan. It worked in Game 1 when he hit a
winning jumper at the buzzer and then again Wednesday night when,
despite his illness, he proved again he was the best player on the
``Michael's Lazarus act was enough to stoke anyone's fire,'' said Longley. ``He got us all fired up, that's why he's a great leader.''
CHICAGO (AP) -- Dennis Rodman's vulgar remarks about Mormons turned out
to be a costly mistake.
Basketball's bad boy was hit with a $50,000 fine, the largest in NBA
history, for his derogatory comments during the NBA Finals.
The fine was announced Thursday, a few hours after Rodman publicly
apologized for his remarks.
``If I knew it was like a religious-type deal, I would have never said
it. I'm sorry about that,'' Rodman said.
Last weekend, Rodman used an expletive in describing Mormons, then added
another vulgarity when asked about the subject on Monday and Tuesday.
``I have indicated in previous actions that insensitive or derogatory
comments involving race or other classifications are unacceptable in the
NBA,'' commissioner David Stern said. ``Dennis Rodman's comments were
exactly the kind of offensive remarks that cannot be tolerated or
The fine marked the third time this season the league has punished
Rodman. The league's top rebounder was fined a then-record $25,000 and
suspended 11 games in January for kicking a courtside photographer. He
was fined another $7,500 in March for striking Milwaukee's Joe Wolf in
After the incident with the photographer, Stern warned Rodman that more
bad behavior could lead to his expulsion from the league. But that
didn't prevent Rodman from getting in trouble again.
After practice Thursday, Rodman insisted he didn't mean to insult an
``That was a bad action on my part. So we retract that,'' Rodman said.
``Like I said, I would have said it if we were in Houston or anything
else. The people were giving me the finger and things like that. ... I
think it's kind of screwed up the league has to get involved, and
everybody is putting pressure on them to fine me.
``As far as people who go to games and give me the finger, I think
that's wrong, too. They call me a lot of names, the people in the
stands. As far as the religion, I have no business saying anything like
that, so I take that statement back.''
Also Thursday, the parent company of Carl's Jr. said it would
permanently pull television commercials that featured Rodman walking
into a tattoo parlor with a bag of food from the fast-food restaurant.
``Carl Karcher Enterprises has stood for freedom of expression and
opportunity for all races, creeds and religions for over 56 years.
Derogatory comments made about any religious or racial group are
inexcusable,'' said Robert W. Wisely, senior vice president of
``In light of Mr. Rodman's comments, we have no choice but to
discontinue the ads.''
Bulls coach Phil Jackson tried to explain Rodman's comments, saying he
was striking out at all Utah fans rather than Mormons in particular.
``To Dennis, a Mormon may just be a nickname for people from Utah. He
may not even know it's a religious cult or sect or whatever it is,''
Stern has handed out three other $25,000 fines, two to Nick Van Exel of
the Los Angeles Lakers for incidents involving game officials, and one
to New Jersey Nets coach John Calipari $25,000 for making an ethnic slur at a reporter.
BETHESDA, Md. (AP) -- Colin Montgomerie had a confident smile as he
walked down the fourth fairway, two key factors that explain why he is
the leader after the first round of the U.S. Open.
That he was in the fairway is supremely important at any U.S. Open.
And the conditions at Congressional Country Club -- the longest course
in U.S. Open history, with rough so thick it could hide a baseball --
rarely allow even the best players to look like they might be having
The Scotsman who loves the U.S. Open more than any other major golf
championship because of its premium on accuracy finally played like it
Thursday. He shot a 5-under-par 65 for a one-stroke lead over Hal Sutton
and Steve Stricker.
``I tend to drive the ball as straight as anybody, and that is a great
advantage here,'' said Montgomerie, who lost in a playoff to Ernie Els
for the '94 Open title. ``This is a tournament where I've been very
And it showed in the first round. The U.S. Open may be the most
demanding mental test in golf, but body language spoke volumes.
As soon as the eyes of defending champion Steve Jones caught up with the
flight of his first drive, he pumped his fist in relief.
Fred Couples, in a large group at 75 that included Greg Norman, Davis
Love III and Phil Mickelson, grimaced as the bushy rough framing a
bunker on the third fairway nearly snatched the club from his hand.
And then there was Tiger Woods. When his 2-iron from the tee on No. 16
began its descent safely into the fairway, he wearily bent down to pick
up his tee.
When he dunked his 7-iron into the water on the par-3 18th to complete
his second straight first-round collapse over the back nine at the Open,
he slammed his club into the bag.
He stormed past reporters as he left the course. Later, in an interview
with a pool reporter, he answered four of the last five questions, ``I
It really wasn't that difficult to figure out.
``If you hit in the rough it's a penalty. But if you keep it in the
fairway, you can score,'' said Tom Lehman, who shot a 3-under-par 67 and
was tied with Mark McNulty.
``Over the course of 72 holes, it's going to happen to everybody where
you have a couple of stretches where you're going to be really
struggling,'' Lehman said. ``The big thing is not to blow yourself out
of the tournament.''
Woods' pursuit of the second leg of the Grand Slam -- he's trying to
become the first player since Jack Nicklaus in 1972 to win the Masters
and the U.S. Open in the same year -- got off to a dismal start.
Two under par through 10 holes, he took a double-bogey at the 11th when
his 9-iron found the rough beyond the green and his chip came out high
and hot and rolled back through the green.
Errant drives on the 13th and 15th led to two more bogeys, followed by
the watery double at No. 18. It added up to a 40 on the back nine for a
A year ago at Oakland Hills, Woods was 3 under until playing the last
five holes at 9 over for a 76.
``I've had some disappointing rounds lately, and this is one of them,''
Woods said. ``I didn't play well coming down the stretch. And obviously,
it cost me.''
Sutton, the 1983 PGA champion, had the only bogey-free round. Stricker,
fourth on the money list last year but who has finished in the top 50
just once this season in full-field events, had six birdies in his round
``I sure hope it's the start of something good,'' Stricker said.
For most of the first round, Montgomerie could do no wrong. He hit
3-wood on the first two driving holes so well that he never bothered
hitting anything else from the tee on par 4s and 5s.
He hit 13 of 14 fairways. He missed only two greens in regulation, and
none of his birdie putts was longer than 25 feet.
``This is possibly, in major golf, the best round of golf I've ever put
together,'' said Montgomerie, who won the European Grand Prix last week
and is 31-under for his last six rounds.
The turning point came at No. 6, a par 4 that measures 475 yards with a
large pond guarding the front part of the green. Montgomerie pulled his
ball into the left rough, hacked out with a sand wedge and then hit an
8-iron to 1 foot for a par.
Five holes later, he was at 4 under.
``If I had missed that par, which was on the card, I possibly wouldn't
have birdied 7 and therefore not 9 and 10 and 11 and what have you,'' he
said. ``So No. 6 was the most important par I've made for a long time.''
The only lapse came on No. 17, when he hit into a greenside bunker and
missed a 15-foot putt for par.
``The 7-iron at 17 I'd like to take back, but there's a lot I'd like to
keep,'' Montgomerie said.
What would he most like to keep up for three more days? Fairways and greens. At the U.S. Open, that's enough to put a smile on anyone's face.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins have a powerful new negotiating
tool as they try to get a new ballpark: permission to seek buyers who
might move the franchise after the 1998 season.
Acting commissioner Bud Selig called the Metrodome, opened in 1982, an
``economic albatross'' and said the sport's new revenue-sharing rules
increased pressure to make more teams maximize their income.
``It's not possible to remain economically viable in the Metrodome,''
Selig said Thursday as owners concluded three days of meetings. ``We
can't sit and let a club sink into a morass of economic failure that
dooms a franchise.''
Bill Collins' group has sought a National League team for Northern
Virginia, but could be blocked by the Baltimore Orioles from purchasing
an AL team for the Washington area. Charlotte, N.C., and Mexico City
were among the other areas interested in teams during the last expansion
Twins owner Carl Pohlad said he hasn't spoken with any buyers yet, and
declined to say if he would keep the team and attempt to move it.
``I'm going to take them at their word. I think it's serious,''
Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson said in St. Paul. ``I find it hard to
believe that the Legislature will allow the Twins to leave. The issue
will ultimately come down to either a new stadium or the Twins
Selig left little hope that Pohlad would be allowed to sell the team to
a Minnesota owner who would continue to play in the Metrodome, which is
configured better for football than baseball and lacks the luxury suites
the Twins want.
``All you do is substitute one name for another and leave all the same
problems,'' Selig said.
Baseball has not allowed a team to move since the expansion Washington
Senators became the Texas Rangers following the 1971 season. The
original Senators, a charter member of the American League, were moved
by Calvin Griffith to the Twin Cities following the 1960 season.
Carlson wants the legislature to consider a ballpark during a special
session later this year, but it's unclear whether legislators are
willing to discuss a baseball bill.
``Of course everybody wants to keep the Twins, but we want to do it in a
way that protects the taxpayers,'' House speaker Phil Carruthers said.
Pohlad had proposed paying $15 million and giving the state 49 percent
ownership of the team to help pay for a new stadium.
``We've withdrawn any and all offers we might have made in the past,''
Pohlad said. ``All our offers are off the table.''
Twins president Jerry Bell claimed the team will incur additional losses
because of the legislature didn't approve a ballpark during the session
that ended last month.
``We can't pick up where we left off because things have changed,'' he
Owners failed to take action on realignment and public ownership of
teams, putting off those decisions until later this summer. Boston Red
Sox chief executive officer John Harrington, the head of the realignment
committee, said his group's plan was still being formulated and that a
special owners' meeting probably would be called in July.
If there isn't realignment, Tampa Bay will be assigned to the AL West
and both leagues will play a balanced schedule next season. If
realignment is achieved, the leagues would switch to an unbalanced
The chief obstacles to realignment are the refusal of the Kansas City
Royals to shift to the AL West, and the desire of the Arizona
Diamondbacks to play in the National League.
In other action:
-- Owners extended the contracts of AL president Gene Budig and NL
president Len Coleman by three years through 2002. They also were given
raises to about $650,000 per year, one official said on the condition of
-- Teams were given permission to carry radio broadcasts of their games
on their Internet web sites.
-- Owners approved a 10-year Professional Baseball Agreement with the
minor leagues through 2007 that is expected to lower major league costs
by $5 million per season. The deal contains a clause allowing the
contract to be reopened after 2003. The minor leagues will take over
from the parent clubs the costs of the umpire development program,
uniforms and some equipment.
-- Fox-Liberty was given a four-year contract to televise games on
direct broadcast satellite.
-- Selig said the investigation of Chicago outfielder Albert Belle's
alleged gambling was ongoing.
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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