Publish date:


If Carl Sandburg were around today, he might have to alter his
famous poem Chicago now that a certain rebounding fool has
invaded the Windy City. The new lines might read something like
this: "Chicago, City of the Big Shoulders (and Orange Hair),
Stacker of Wheat (and Piercer of Body Parts), Hog Butcher for
the World (and Tattoo Parlor for the Universe)." And oh yes,
perhaps come June, "Home of the 1995-96 NBA Champions."

Such are the extremes that come with Chicago's acquisition of
Dennis Rodman from the Spurs in exchange for veteran center Will
Perdue. Rodman, 34, who led the NBA in rebounding the last four
seasons, is the power forward the Bulls desperately needed to
complement Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and make Chicago a
serious title contender again. Unfortunately, Rodman is also the
guy who skipped practices, took off his shoes at courtside and
refused to join team huddles for the Spurs last year,
contributing to the team's demise in the playoffs.

"This was not a snap judgment," said Bull coach Phil Jackson,
who approved the deal before vice president Jerry Krause pulled
the trigger. "There are rules and regulations, and we'll ask him
to conform."

If Rodman--who showed up in Chicago on the first day with his
hair dyed red and a Bull emblem shaved into the back of his
head--keeps his Nikes on, Chicago is suddenly a favorite to win
the title. The Bulls have most of the nucleus back from last
year's team, which went 47-35 and advanced to the Eastern
Conference semifinals before losing to Orlando in six games.
More tellingly, they went 13-4 after Jordan came out of
retirement in March.

Jordan averaged 26.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists per
game--not bad for a guy who hadn't played in 17 months--but he
shot just 41.1% from the floor and looked rusty at times. In one
memorable lapse, Jordan allowed Nick Anderson to steal the ball
from him in the final seconds of Game 1 of the Bull-Magic
playoff series, a 94-91 Orlando victory. But Jordan spent the
last two months of the off-season getting back into basketball
shape, and at the start of training camp he proclaimed himself
ready to display the all-around game that made him the best in
the world. "I'm ready to play," Jordan said. "This year's going
to be fun for me."

As usual, Jordan will be flanked by the greatest supporting
actor in the game, the multidimensional Pippen. Last year Pippen
griped about a contract that made him the fourth-highest-paid
Bull at $2.1 million per year, but he still led the team in
rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and minutes played. Pippen has
three years left on the deal, but he has stopped complaining now
that Jordan has returned with his similarly undervalued $4
million-per-year deal.

Pippen and Jordan will often work alongside Toni Kukoc, the
Croatian Sensation, who made $3.2 million last year while
becoming the third option in Chicago's three-pronged attack.
Kukoc can score inside and outside, but it was his inability to
get physical with Horace Grant in last year's playoffs that
prompted the Bulls to take a chance on Rodman. So Rodman will
start at power forward, and Kukoc will be asked to play, at
various times, point guard, shooting guard and small forward. He
will provide much-needed scoring off the bench, which will make
him the early favorite for the sixth-man award.

But even with Jordan, Pippen and Rodman in the starting lineup
and Kukoc in reserve, several unanswered questions remain for
the Bulls. Can centers Luc Longley and Bill Wennington hold down
the middle, especially now that Perdue has taken his six fouls a
night to San Antonio? Can Steve Kerr provide the clutch
shooting lost with the departure of B.J. Armstrong via the
expansion draft? Is aging Ron Harper really going to be counted
on to play significant minutes at guard, as Jackson has hinted?

And most important, how will the Bulls react the first time
Rodman misbehaves? "Dennis wants to be here for a reason, and
that's to win," Jordan said. "I don't think he's going to cause

If he doesn't, the Bulls might get past the Magic and find
themselves playing for another championship banner to go with
their three from '91 to '93. As Rodman himself said the day he
was introduced to the Chicago media, "They've already got Kukoc,
Pippen and Jordan. That's a winning team as it is. Bring
somebody like me in, you know, and it just adds a little more
cinnamon to the French toast."

Carl Sandburg couldn't have said it better himself.

--Marty Burns

COLOR PHOTO: BEN VAN HOOK COVER PHOTO [VARIES BY REGION] Eyes on the Prize Nothing short of another championship will satisfy Michael Jordan and Chicago [Michael Jordan]

COLOR PHOTO COVER PHOTO INSET [VARIES BY REGION] Dennis Rodman: Big Boost for the Bulls?

COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER A full season of Jordan plus a full dose of Rodman gives the Bulls a potent mix. [Michael Jordan]


PPG (Rank) FG% (Rank)
OFFENSE 101.5 (12) .476 (9)
DEFENSE 96.7 (5) .457 (11)


Despite placing two players in the top 10 in three-point field
goal accuracy last season (Steve Kerr, with a league-record .524
mark, and B.J. Armstrong, with .427), the Bulls finished just
eighth in the NBA in the team rankings in that category. One
reason: While the Bulls did have two of the most accurate
three-point shooters in NBA history on their roster, they also
had three of the least accurate--Ron Harper, Scottie Pippen and
Michael Jordan.

Career Three-Point Field Goal Percentage
(minimum 250 three-point field goals)

3FGs Att. Pct.

Steve Kerr 288 617 .467
Drazen Petrovic 255 583 .437
B.J. Armstrong 284 650 .437
Dana Barros 606 1,453 .417
Mark Price 802 1,960 .409
Trent Tucker 575 1,410 .408
Dale Ellis 1,119 2,783 .402
Hersey Hawkins 685 1,705 .402

3FGs Att. Pct.

Charles Barkley 403 1,505 .268
Ron Harper 332 1,172 .283
Mark Jackson 257 887 .290
Isiah Thomas 398 1,373 .290
Scottie Pippen 284 966 .294
Magic Johnson 303 1,016 .298
Reggie Williams 344 1,130 .304
Michael Jordan 303 987 .307


When point guard Randy Brown was growing up on the West Side of
Chicago, he dreamed of playing for the Bulls. So when Brown
signed a five-year, $5.8 million deal with Chicago as a free
agent on Oct. 5, he was naturally elated. "It's almost like a
storybook," he says. Brown, 27, averaged just 5.2 points a game
in his four years with the Kings, but he's a quick, hard-nosed
defender who can run the floor. Coach Phil Jackson says Brown
will see extensive time as a backcourt defensive stopper. "Randy
knows how to play team basketball," Jackson says. "Whatever it
takes to fit in, he'll do it. That's why we got him."


STARTERS 1994-95 Key Statistics

SF Scottie Pippen 21.4 ppg 8.1 rpg 2.94 spg
PF Dennis Rodman 7.1 ppg 16.8 rpg 57.1 FG%
C Luc Longley 6.5 ppg 4.8 rpg 82.2 FT%
SG Michael Jordan 26.9 ppg 6.9 rpg 5.3 apg
PG Steve Kerr 8.2 ppg 1.8 apg 52.4 3FG%


F Toni Kukoc 15.7 ppg 5.4 rpg 4.6 apg
C-F Bill Wennington 5.0 ppg 2.6 rpg 0.23 bpg
G-F Ron Harper 6.9 ppg 2.3 rpg 42.6 FG%