Babes in Bullsland
Jalen Rose has picked up the spirits--and the play--of Chicago's
rookie big men
Jalen Rose was angry when the Pacers dealt him to the
ever-rebuilding Bulls in a seven-player trade on Feb. 19. "A lot
of players in my situation would not want to come here," says
Rose, 29, who after helping Indiana reach the Finals in 2000
signed a seven-year, $93 million contract and assumed he would
finish his career with the Pacers.
But Rose has adapted quickly in Chicago. Because he's a playmaker
as well as a scorer, the 6'8" Rose says he will hold himself
responsible for developing 7'1" Tyson Chandler and 6'11",
285-pound Eddy Curry, the second and fourth picks, respectively,
in last year's draft. "These guys need to become a high-low Twin
Towers," says Rose, pointing out that only a few teams pack that
sort of one-two punch.
Rose believes he can lift the Bulls the way Jason Kidd has the
Nets, but it will take awhile. Kidd joined a club loaded with
skilled veterans. Rose's fellow starters--Chandler, Curry, Trenton
Hassell and A.J. Guyton--have combined played fewer than half as
many NBA games as Rose. Told that second-year forward Marcus
Fizer wore number 5 in high school and college as tribute to him,
Rose says, "I feel old."
Still, the early returns have been promising. Rose led Chicago to
wins in four of his first seven games, with Chandler and Curry
picking up their games noticeably. Last Friday, Curry had career
highs of 19 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in a 90-81 home
victory over the Jordan-less Wizards. Rose exploited the absence
of injured Washington centers Jahidi White and Brendan Haywood by
feeding Curry, even after two early shots had been rejected. "Now
we have a guy who's looking for us," Curry says of Rose. "After
running the same screen-and-roll plays all season without getting
the ball, you begin to think you're not open. But Jalen always
Although Chandler has never seen The Odd Couple, he understands
how the term applies to Curry and himself. Apart from being 19,
they have little in common. Chandler, who has the makings of a
defensive force, is outgoing and confident; Curry is more skilled
offensively and more reticent, though he has drawn two technicals
for taunting. "That's Tyson rubbing off on me," he says.
It makes sense that Chandler would be the cockier of the two: He
was drafted higher and acquired for Elton Brand, an All-Star
power forward in his third season (as well as Brian Skinner).
Fellow G.M.'s still shake their heads when discussing Jerry
Krause's draft-night trade of a sure thing in return for a player
who'd just graduated from Dominguez High in Compton, Calif. Yet
Bulls coach Bill Cartwright believes that Chandler's speed and
enormous shot-blocking potential could prove more valuable over
the long run.
Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders also likes Chandler's upside.
"The guys who have a chance to shine more are the ones who are a
freak of position, like [Kevin Garnett]," he says. "That's what
Chandler is. He's a 7'1" small forward who can cause matchup
The 235-pound Chandler plans to work on an array of moves this
summer that will enhance that edge. "I want the coach to be able
to put me wherever he wants me in order to create a mismatch
night in and night out," says Chandler, who missed Sunday's 92-84
loss at New Jersey with a hyperextended left pinkie. "I'm going
to be a star in the league. It's just a matter of time."
At this time last year NBA scouts were questioning whether Curry,
who played at Thornwood (Ill.) High, had the work ethic to
succeed. Cartwright has no doubts on that count; along with
Chandler, Curry shows up at least an hour early for practice to
work with an assistant coach. Though Curry's game is less varied
than Chandler's, he is a former gymnast who performed a backflip
as recently as last summer. He has the bulk to hold position down
low and has showed flashes as a post-up scorer.
In the 7'1" Cartwright, who replaced Tim Floyd on Dec. 28, the
rookie big men have a former center who helped Chicago win its
first three championships, in the early 1990s. "A lot of times
during a game I'm saying, 'Why didn't he get there? Why didn't he
rotate?'" Cartwright says. "Then I remember that they should be
college freshmen." When either one needs instruction, Cartwright
addresses them both, so they can learn from each other's
Throw in Fizer; 6'2" shooting guard Hassell, the Eastern
Conference rookie of the month in February; and Jamal Crawford,
a 6'5" second-year guard who returned from knee surgery on
Sunday, and Cartwright has an abundance of young talent to work
with. His job may become more satisfying--as well as more
complicated--if Chicago wins the draft lottery and gets the No.
1 pick. With that possibility in mind, Krause spent last week in
China scouting 7'6" Yao Ming. Imagine a lineup of Yao at center,
Curry at power forward, Chandler at small forward, Rose at
shooting guard and Crawford at the point. Average height: 6'11".
"That would be crazy," says Curry, but he knows better than to
dismiss the possibility. If Krause believes it can work, he won't
be afraid to try. Just ask Elton Brand.
Golden State's Danny Fortson
Because the Warriors are going to fail to make the playoffs for
the eighth straight year, it's easy to overlook Danny
Fortson--unless you're the one trying to keep him off the boards.
At week's end he was pulling down 12.2 rebounds a game, which
ranked third in the league, and 4.1 offensive boards, which
His height aside--he's listed at 6'8", but he's closer to
6'6"--the 260-pound Fortson is the prototypical rebounding
forward. He has the wide body of Charles Barkley, the long arms
and soft hands of Paul Silas, and the maniacal energy of Dennis
Rodman. "You're dealing with a dude who's relentless," says
Clippers center Sean Rooks. "You're going to have to fight on
every shot, or you're going to get in trouble."
Fortson admits he was a better leaper before foot injuries caused
him to miss all but 61 games in the previous two seasons. But he
is still surprisingly quick off his feet, and more eager than
ever to prove that he belongs in a conference of taller power
forwards. "He got that big ol' butt and wide body that makes it
hard for someone to get around," says the Heat's Brian Grant.
"Add that to a lot of heart and determination, and that's why
he's one of the top rebounders in the league."
Though Fortson is only 25, the referees respect him enough to let
him get away with tricks usually pulled by veterans. "Damn near
every rebound he gets," says Lakers forward Robert Horry, "he has
two hands on your back and he's pushing you."
Fortson says his tactics are nothing compared with those of Bad
Boys Rodman, Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer, whose work he has
long admired. "Those guys played dirty," Fortson says with an
appreciative grin. "They were stepping on toes, pulling your
shorts down. There's no way you're getting away with that stuff
While Fortson's rebounding would seem to be a benefit to any
team, he's been traded four times in five seasons, and none of
his teams have reached the playoffs. Some Warriors insiders
believe he forsakes his defensive assignments in his
single-minded pursuit of boards. He has also been accused of not
understanding his own limitations and of trying to score too
much. Through Sunday he was averaging 11.4 points and shooting
42.1%, a low number for a player who seldom ventures far from the
Fortson's attitude was also called into question recently. When
coach Brian Winters told him he wouldn't be starting against the
Bucks on Feb. 22, Fortson walked out of the team's shootaround.
He didn't play that night, and came off the bench in the next
game for only seven minutes before returning to the starting
lineup. "I pout, same as the rest of the guys," admits Fortson,
who wishes the Warriors had more veterans in their locker room.
"I try to be a leader, but I'm a little immature when things
don't go right."
G.M. Garry St. Jean doesn't blame Fortson for the Warriors'
dismal season. "Danny's got a really big heart," St. Jean says,
"and he plays all out every night."
Fraternal Shooting Guards
A Barry, Barry Good Year
Brent and Jon Barry have more in common than their parents and
their position (shooting guard). After journeyman careers, each
of the brothers has become a key contributor to a surprise team
this season. Through Sunday, Brent, 30, was averaging a
career-high 13.9 points for the Sonics, who were three games
ahead of the Clippers for the final playoff spot in the West.
Jon, 32, has provided high-energy defense and scoring off the
bench for the Pistons, who at week's end were the second-best
team in the East.
"This is the first time a coach has given me the opportunity to
play significant minutes, and I'm taking advantage of it," says
Brent, who is among Seattle's leaders in almost every category,
including his hellacious 45.3% shooting from three-point range.
Coach Nate McMillan says that Brent has emerged as a leader on
and off the court. "I still look at this as a pretty good first
job out of college," Brent says. "Both Jon and I have been
around a little bit, but Jon has fought through more than I
have, including not knowing if he wanted to continue playing
That low moment came after the 1998-99 season. "My wife and I
had just had our first son, and I was joining Sacramento on a
nonguaranteed contract for the fourth year in a row," recalls
Jon. "I was leaving my family, there was so much uncertainty and
I was tired of it. Thank God I got back into it again."
His contribution to the Kings' success enabled him to approach
his preseason trade to then lowly Detroit with a positive
attitude. He was averaging 8.3 points through Sunday and has been
almost as hot as his younger brother from long range, nailing
44.5% of his threes. The Pistons are 4-1 when Barry starts in
place of Jerry Stackhouse, including a 101-89 win over the Bulls
on Feb. 27 in which Barry had 21 points and 10 assists for the
first double double of his 10-year career. "It seems like my
brother's putting up those numbers all the time," Jon says.
The competition between them has included a flagrant foul
(inflicted by Brent on a breakaway by Jon two seasons ago) and
good-natured gibes when they hear each other's defense being
disparaged in their team's scouting report. They split their
series this season. "When we get matched up against each other,
you can hear the fans reacting to it," Jon says. "But as
competitive and intense as I am, I really don't like playing
against him, and I know he doesn't feel comfortable about it
Play of the Week
The Blazers (Pick and) Roll
After Sam Cassell pulled off a four-point play last Saturday at
Milwaukee, the Bucks held a 103-101 lead over the Trail Blazers
with 3.4 seconds left in overtime. For its last attempt, Portland
called a play in which Damon Stoudamire comes off a screen by
Rasheed Wallace at the top of the key. "We've run that a hundred
times," Stoudamire said later, "and the guy coming off the pick
ain't got a shot."
Not only did Stoudamire get a clean look after faking right and
dribbling left, but he also buried a three with 0.2 of a second
remaining to give the Blazers their ninth straight win.
For complete scores, stats and the latest news, plus more
analysis from Jack McCallum, go to cnnsi.com/basketball.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Called a "freak of position," the 19-year-old Chandler may soon be a fit for each frontcourt spot.
COLOR PHOTO: ROCKY WIDNER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES So far, Fortson's rugged rebounding hasn't helped any of his teams reach the playoffs.
around the Rim
With the launch of its $160 Shox VC shoes last Saturday, Nike is
marketing Vince Carter the way it does Michael Jordan and Tiger
Woods. But while Carter was the top vote getter in the recent
All-Star balloting, he's not held in such high esteem around the
league. A growing number of executives, coaches and players
privately rip him as a manufactured superstar who shirks the
responsibilities of defense and team leadership. Says a Western
Conference G.M., "I wouldn't choose Vince Carter for anything."
...For veteran leadership, the Spurs plan to use Terry Porter or
Antonio Daniels at the point in the fourth quarter of tight
games rather than 19-year-old Tony Parker, who continues to
start.... Heat coach Pat Riley has started his countdown to the
playoffs. "We need to win two out of every three," he says. That
would give Miami a good shot at the final postseason spot and
put the Heat (25-32 at week's end) at .500, extending Riley's
streak of years without a losing record to 20--an amazing
accomplishment after his 5-23 start.... In his first five games
after returning from a back injury, power forward Tyrone Hill
averaged 12.8 rebounds.... With Jalen Rose gone, Reggie Miller
has again become more talkative in the Pacers' locker room and
more assertive on the floor, as his recent fight with Kobe
Bryant shows.... Newcomer Marc Jackson, who was acquired from
the Warriors, contributed 12 points and four rebounds in 26
minutes in the Timberwolves' victory over the Lakers on Feb. 27.
That made Minnesota the only contender to have beaten the champs
twice this season. "He's not built to play with a bunch of
clowns like they've got at Golden State," Wally Szczerbiak says
of Jackson. "He needs players who know how to play."
On the Hornets, who at week's end were 29-30 and seventh in the
If David Wesley can come back all the way from his broken foot,
then they're my dark horse in the playoffs. When healthy, their
10 players are better than anybody else's in the conference. In
Jamal Mashburn and Baron Davis, they have two stars who can
create their own shots. Surround them with P.J. Brown, Elden
Campbell and either Wesley or George Lynch, and you have a good
starting five. They can bring Lee Nailon's scoring off the bench,
along with Jamaal Magloire's inside game and the experience of
Stacey Augmon. They can play fast or slow, they know they can win
on the road, and based on their playoff run last year, they
should be very confident.