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Tuesday, June 16, 1998

Bulls face tough question

AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) -- With champagne flowing and cigar smoke
filling the locker room, it was easy for Scottie Pippen to
smile and say he'll be open-minded about returning to the
Chicago Bulls.

But when the bubbly goes flat and the smoke clears, Pippen,
coach Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and the
Bulls management have some tough choices to make. Like how
much will it cost to ease past hurts and slights? Can the
prospect of one more championship outweigh an extended

And who, if anyone, wants to be the one responsible for
breaking up one of the greatest teams in NBA history?

``I can never see any other team in the future being as
dominant as this ballclub has been,'' Pippen said. ``And you
hate to see it come to an end and you don't want to see it
come to an end.''

But as loathe as Bulls fans are to even acknowledge the
thought, this dynasty's reign might be at its end. Three
seasons in the making, a breakup has never been more

Pippen, feeling undervalued and betrayed by repeated trade
attempts, swore he'd never play for the Bulls again after he
became a free agent this summer. Jackson, tired of the
constant wranglings with management, just wanted to head for
the wilds of Montana. Jordan, unhappy that his beloved coach
and favorite sidekick were on their way out the door, said
he was, too.

And at 37, Rodman said he was too old for games like this.

``When you accomplish everything that he has, you know it
would be a futile effort to come back (and rebuild),'' said
Dwight Manley, Rodman's agent. ``He'd rather not play. He
plays to win, he doesn't play to get paid.''

But chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry
Krause don't want the Bulls to become the '90s version of
the Boston Celtics. All these gleaming gold trophies are
nice, but how long do you mortgage the future for the
sentiment of the present?

Jordan is still at the top of his game, but he's 35. Pippen
is 32.

``If it's my decision, I would leave this team (intact)
until it dies,'' said Toni Kukoc, one of only three players
on Chicago's 12-man playoff roster under contract for next
year. ``There's no reason to split a team that is winning
and is doing an incredible job on the court.''

And despite all the turmoil, Chicago keeps winning. The
Bulls might be aging, but they're still the best the NBA has
to offer. Six championships in eight years. A seventh
consecutive rebounding title for Rodman. A gutty performance
in Game 6 of the NBA Finals from a Pippen so hobbled by a
bad back he was grimacing as he ran up and down the court.

And a 45-point effort from Jordan, including the
game-winning, pullup jumper with 5.2 seconds left.

``He's the most dominant player in the game at age 35, and I
think (could be) at age 38,'' said David Falk, Jordan's

So how do you let these guys go? If you're Reinsdorf and
Krause, maybe you can't. Chicago's payroll could swell to
$80 million if all the Bulls come back.

But the five-year leases on 80 percent of the United
Center's 220 luxury boxes come up for renewal next year, and
Kukoc and Ron Harper aren't the reason Chicago has sold out
every home game since November 1987.

``We hope that this is not the end of this run,'' Reinsdorf
said. ``I don't want to be the person that breaks up the
Chicago Bulls as long as they're winning championships.''

For Jackson and the players, it might not be easy to walk
away, either. Pippen, who, despite being selected one of the
NBA's 50 greatest players, made only $2.7 million this
season, wants a long-term, lucrative contract. Under the
current labor structure, the Bulls are the team that can
give him the most money.

Almost everyone agrees that Pippen is the key to Chicago's
future. If he comes back, Jackson says he'd be more apt to
return, and Jordan has long tied his future to Jackson's.
Rodman wants to return, but only with Pippen, Jackson and

``Certain people high up in the organization said, `See you
next year,' as we left the arena,'' Manley said. ``So that's
a positive thing.''

For now, no one can do anything. Jordan, Pippen and Rodman
all are free agents, which means there can't be any
negotiations until July 1. But that's also the tentative
date for a lockout unless the NBA and players reach a
settlement on a new labor agreement.

``Everything will be done in its due time,'' Krause said
Monday. ``Jerry and I will sit down and discuss it at the
proper time.''

And everyone -- from Jackson to Jordan to Pippen to the
Jerrys -- needs to decide what they want to do.

``The first thing to do is savor what he accomplished this
year,'' Falk said. ``I have no timeframe on something that's
based on Michael Jordan's personal comfort level and also
something that's based on what direction the Bulls are going

``There's no reason to rush it.''

Olympic groomed for tough U.S. Open

AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- David Duval has played in five U.S.
Opens, enough to know what it takes to win. Still, he was at
a loss for words after his first 18 holes at The Olympic

From atop the amphitheater that surrounds the 18th green, he
peered across a relatively short Lake Course -- at 6,797
yards, it is regarded as the longest short course in the

``You always say you've got to hit it straight and hit the
greens,'' he said, pausing to look over the tops of cypress
trees lining the fairways and mangled rough at the bottom of
their trunks.

``But you're not going to go through the week without
missing a fairway,'' he said. ``Sometimes, you've got to
look at bogeys as making a pretty good score.''

History bears that out. In the three previous U.S. Open
championships at Olympic, only four players have managed to
break par over 72 holes. Scott Simpson had a 3-under 277 to
beat Tom Watson by one stroke in 1987, and Billy Casper and
Arnold Palmer each had 2-under 278 in 1966; Casper won in a

When Jack Fleck pulled off a stunning playoff win over Ben
Hogan in 1955, both finished the four rounds in 7-over 287.

``Has anybody started speculating on winning scores?'' Duval
asked with a smile.

Lee Janzen, who won the U.S. Open in 1993 at Baltusrol in a
record-tying 272, suggested 5-under would be enough. Duval
found that hard to believe.

``I would take that and go fishing for the week,'' said
Duval, who spent last week fly fishing in Montana and Idaho
for a television show.

It even raised the eyebrows of Fuzzy Zoeller, the 1984 U.S.
Open champion. Zoeller tied with Mark McCumber at 274 in the
1994 Tour Championship at Olympic, which McCumber won with a
40-foot birdie on the first playoff hole.

But this is not the same course, not with fairways as narrow
as 27 yards, rough that is 5 inches and especially clumpy
around collars of the green, and new sand in the bunkers
that could make them even more penalizing.

``That felt like work today,'' Zoeller said after his
practice round. ``I don't think this golf course will let
anyone run away.''

Olympic is proof that a course doesn't have to be long to be
tough. Sure, there's a 609-yard par-5 awaiting on No. 16 --
Tiger Woods tried to reach it in two Monday, but his 3-wood
shot came up short in a bunker.

But one par 4 measures only 288 yards, and the 18th is one
of the shorter closing holes in championship golf at a mere
347 yards.

There is only one fairway bunker, but it's not easy finding
a level spot, and nearly every tee shot must be shaped
around Monterrey pines, eucalyptus and cypress trees.

It's called the Lake Course, but there are no water hazards
to be found.

``What makes Olympic deceptively hard is its combination of
slanted fairways and subtle greens,'' said Jim Lucius, the
head pro at Olympic. ``There are no simple lies, and no easy

And as Olympic has shown, there are no predictable winners.

Hogan, Palmer and Watson were all primed to win the U.S.
Open until it was snatched away from them in the closing

Fleck birdied two of the last four holes to force a playoff
with Hogan, then denied Hogan his fifth Open. Palmer
squandered a seven-stroke lead with nine holes to play.
Casper caught him with a 32 on the back to get into a
playoff, winning with a 69 to Palmer's 73.

And Simpson birdied Nos. 14, 15, 16 in the final round to
surge past Watson. It was the first time a U.S. Open at
Olympic didn't require a playoff, only because Watson's
birdie putt on the 72nd hole stopped a quarter-inch short.

That's something Ernie Els should keep in mind as he tries
to become only the fifth player to successfully defend his
U.S. Open title since after World War I.

Same for Tiger Woods, who used to play Olympic during his
college days at Stanford and would love to disprove those
who say he can't win at courses that put a premium on
accuracy off the tee.

Ditto for Colin Montgomerie and Jim Furyk, two of the most
accurate drivers in golf who figure their best chance at
their first major would be a U.S. Open.

And Watson, playing his best golf in years and a winner last
month in the Colonial, could find himself once again going
to the 72nd hole in contention at Olympic.

All that Olympic has ever promised is that the champion will
be tested for 72 holes -- or more.

Germany defeats United States

AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) -- They were the Ugly Americans for the entire
first half, barely attempting to score.

By the time they tried to put the ball in the net, it was
too late.

``We let them beat us up,'' goalkeeper Kasey Keller said
after Germany defeated the United States 2-0 on Monday night
in the Americans' World Cup opener.

From the moment Jens Jeremies elbowed Claudio Reyna in the
first half-minute, it was clear Germany's plan was to
overwhelm the Americans with brute force. And it worked.

``Some of us were a little in awe of them,'' Reyna said.

U.S. players had talked tough, saying they could compete
with the three-time World Cup champions.

Germany's elbows, knees and boots were tougher. The United
States came away with no win, no goals and no respect.

``This team looked a lot more like 1990 than 1994,'' said
Tab Ramos, who played the final 20 minutes. ``You can lose
to Germany 2-0 any day, but the impression we left,
especially in the first half, was that we weren't trying to
give up a lot of goals. We're here to show improvement. We
didn't do it.''

Andreas Moeller scored off a corner kick in the ninth
minute, and the U.S. team never recovered. Juergen Klinsmann
got the other goal on a counterattack in the 65th.

While the U.S. offense came to life in the second half, the
Americans failed on all their scoring chances and were shut
out for the third straight time in World Cup play since a
stunning 2-1 victory over Colombia in 1994.

``Nerves get to you a little bit,'' said Frankie Hejduk, who
had the best scoring chance seven minutes into the second
half. ``They came out hard and strong, and we weren't really
ready for that.''

Now the Americans must get at least a victory and a tie
against Iran and Yugoslavia to advance to the second round.
After making a great leap forward in 1994, they're on the
verge of taking a step back.

``Giving up the early goal really took the wind out of our
sails,'' defender Eddie Pope said. ``It was really hard to
get going after that.''

The only time the United States produced an electric moment
was when Hejduk, a self-proclaimed ``surfer dude'' from
Cardiff, Calif., took a cross from David Regis seven minutes
into the second half and sent a diving header just inside
the right post.

Goalkeeper Andreas Koepke dived to his right, getting his
hand on it, and Reyna's shot off the rebound went off
Koepke's knees.

``I thought it was in the goal,'' Hejduk said. ``I started
celebrating too early. Their keeper made a great save.''

Germany got both goals by outhustling the Americans.

Olaf Thon sent a long corner to the far side of the penalty
area and Klinsmann, standing between Regis and Ernie
Stewart, outclawed both, sending the ball in front of the
net. Moeller then went past Thomas Dooley and beat Keller to
the near side.

U.S. coach Steve Sampson tried to spark his team at

``He said, `Let's get off our butts and start playing like
we know we can play,''' Pope recounted.

Hejduk replaced Mike Burns at the start of the second half,
Roy Wegerle took over from Eric Wynalda in the 64th minute,
and Ramos came in for Chad Deering.

Sampson's 3-6-1 formation -- three defenders, six
midfielders and one forward -- turned into a prevent

``In the second half, we came out ready to be more
aggressive,'' Reyna said. ``We were and we almost tied it.
But after they scored the second goal, it became more

Klinsmann's goal came after Regis' clearing pass was blocked
by Jens Jeremies. Dooley, a former German who gained U.S.
citizenship six years ago, was turned around on Oliver
Bierhoff's cross, leaving Klinsmann wide open with nearly
the entire net to shoot at.

``It was, maybe, my fault,'' said Dooley, who had been
looking forward to the game for months. ``I tried to
challenge Klinsmann in the air and I jumped too early.''

There's almost a week for the Americans to regroup. They
play Iran on Sunday in the most politically charged game of
the tournament.

``We have to put this behind us,'' Wynalda said. ``We have
two more matches to get it right.''

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