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Cleaning up language, dress

Look for the league to be tidier this season.

Before the season, NBA officials sent memos to all 28 teams informing them of a few less-publicized rules they will enforce.

One deals with uniforms. Players aren't allowed to wear shorts that fall more than 1 inch above the knee. Violators, the league memos said, will be fined.

The other pertains to profanity. Basically, it's not allowed. Players and coaches will be monitored by television and through audio devices. Offenders are subject to fines.

Atlanta center Dikembe Mutombo, who has let more than a few curse words slip out: "Oooh, now I must watch myself."

No word whether the league sent Chicago forward Dennis Rodman a reminder memo in case he accidentally stuffed the first one in his bra.

WHOM DO YOU BELIEVE?: Not everyone is buying that report last week that said 60 to 70 percent of players use marijuana or drink to excess.

"I'd be shocked by those stats," said former player Doc Rivers, now an analyst for TNT. Added ex-San Antonio coach Bob Hill: "I didn't come across problems to that effect."

Said Chicago's Michael Jordan: "I don't think that's accurate. I can't say I've seen 70 percent or any percent on our team."

The New York Times, which published the report, stands by its story.

HE WASN'T GOING TO DISNEY WORLD: Miami guard Tim Hardaway doesn't doubt Charles Barkley threw a man through a window in Orlando on Oct. 26. What he's not sure about is why Barkley was out so late that night.

Said Hardaway, laughing: "I want to know what Charles was doing in Orlando at 5 in the morning. There isn't s--- to do in Orlando."

FREE ADVICE: Here's a tip. Don't bet on Charlotte getting off to a fast start.

The reason is, 15 of the Hornets' 24 games against the league's eight best teams from last season are scheduled during the first three months.

The upside is Charlotte will have a cakewalk the last part of the season.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I don't believe they could be the most qualified of all the referees out there, but I think (the NBA) wanted to break the barrier. And that's good," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said on the league promoting two women refs to regular-season games.

NO SMOOTH RIDER: In what should be characterized less and less as news, Portland's Isaiah Rider had a run-in with police recently.

On an Alaska Airlines flight from Oakland to Portland, Rider allegedly verbally abused a flight attendant after the plane was forced to delay its landing because of fog.

According to witnesses, Rider told the flight attendant: "Get out of my (obscenity) face. This is an emergency. You've got to get me down."

Police met the plane at the gate, but no charges were filed.

DID YOU KNOW?: Indiana's new coach, Larry Bird, turned down offers to do quick radio and TV ads worth more than $100,000.

Said Bird: "Money means nothing. I didn't get back in this for the money."

Is it any wonder they worship him in Indiana?

SEEING MAY BE BELIEVING: Much is being made of San Antonio's twin towers, power forward Tim Duncan and center David Robinson. But not everyone is ready to hand the Western Conference title to the Spurs yet.

"(Duncan) is a bonus for them, a hell of a bonus," Houston veteran Eddie Johnson said. "But to me, it remains to be seen if the twin towers concept can work. Even when the Rockets had it with Ralph (Sampson) and Hakeem (Olajuwon), it worked for a while, but then they struggled.

"I refuse to believe this is going to put the Spurs head and shoulders above the other teams in the West."

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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