Quotes from the Lakers-Rockets game (and MJ) 2/28/99: Lakers (and MJ) quotes

Quotes from the Lakers-Rockets game (and MJ) 2/28/99: Lakers (and MJ) quotes

Post by gokam.. » Tue, 02 Mar 1999 04:00:00

HC  = Houston Chronicle          LAT = LA Times
AP  = Associated Press           USA = USA Today
OCR = Orange County Register     CT  = Chicago Tribune
RPE = Riverside Press-Enterprise
CST = Chicago Sun-Times
LADN = LA Daily News
SJMN = San Jose Mercury News
LBPT = Long Beach Press-Telegram

Lakers fans (and players) complain about their poor
record on the Sunday NBC games...but since the start
of the 97-98 season, Houston is 1-10 on games on NBC
and 3-6 on TNT!

This quote post is in two parts because its length
got longer than the maximum length allowed by Deja
News.  I'd like to thank rom for sending the quotes
to the NGs yesterday--My Deja News was down all day
and I couldn't read or post to NGs.


About the standing ovation the Forum crowd gave him, MJ:
"I just never had a chance to say goodbye to a lot of the
fans on the road, all the people who came out to support
us. It was a very fortunate thing that I was able to come
to a game here. I think the Laker fans all know that
we've had our battles over the years, and they gave me a
tribute. I appreciate that. That's a great compliment to
have." (LAT, CT)

"I was touched by it. But I held steady. It was great
because I never had a chance to say goodbye to a lot of
fans on the road. The Laker fans, even though we had a
heated rivalry with their team over the years, have been
really great to me. I appreciate it." (CST)
Note: MJ admitted that he almost cried during the ovation.

Not wanting to distract from the game, Jordan said:
"I didn't want to take away from the game. The game is
important." (LAT, CT)

"I didn't want to take away from the game. It's time to
move on. Scottie is in a different place, Dennis is in
a different place and they've moved on. So have I." (CST)

About Rodman's marriage, Jordan said during the game:
"D. Rod, thought you said you weren't getting married." (LAT)

"Man, I thought you'd never get married." (LADN)
Note: Rodman responded "Yeah, bro, well, you know." (LADN)

Jordan's advice to Barkley after the game was:
"just get healthy." (HC)

Telling reporters to interview the players, not him, after
the game, Jordan pointed to the Rockets' locker room:
"I'm not the game. The game is in there." (HC)

Asked if he regretted his retirement, Jordan said:
"No, not at all. I know I've made the right choice, and I
have no regrets. I let go of that. I've missed the game,
but I know I've made the right choice. I'm still a fan.
I'll always be a fan of the game. But there's other
things I want to do with my life. I'm very happy. My
life is going in whatever direction I choose, and I'm
doing different things, the things I choose. I actually
got up one day and rode the treadmill. I rode 20 minutes
and got so tired I finally said, 'I must be crazy.' " (CST)

"Got up on the treadmill one day for 20 minutes. I got
so tired, I said, 'This is crazy.' " (RPE)

About waiting awhile before he attends a game at the
United Center, Jordan said:
"It's all a matter of timing. They're trying to make a
break from the old to the new. I don't want there to be
any pressure. At some point in time, I will." (CST)

Admitting he was cheering more for Pippen than Rodman, MJ:
"Our roots go back longer. I'd like to see Scottie win
another championship." (CST)

Asked about the Bulls, Jordan said:
"I'll take a glimpse, but I don't want to criticize them.
I realize this is a different era, and I need to let go
of it. It's not the same, what the Bulls meant to me for
14 years." (CST)
Note in CST: "A scene before the game reflected his
wariness of Rodman. Jordan was walking to his seat,
accompanied by Lakers great Earvin Johnson, and had to
pass in front of the home bench. Shaquille O'Neal leaned
over and gave him a brief hug, but an awkward Jordan
remained transfixed on Worm, who was stretching a few
feet away. Suddenly, they were face to face, the king
and the court jester he tolerated. Jordan looked at
Rodman, Rodman looked at Jordan, and each waited for
the other to nod, offer a handshake, do something to
acknowledge the other. Nothing happened. They sort of
said hello, but not really." (CST)
Note: There were so many celebs at the game that Tiger
Woods couldn't get tickets.

Happy with his players' team-first attitudes, Rambis:
"The guys have had an unbelievable attitude in accepting
whatever direction we were trying to push them. And they
haven't been complaining, 'Hey, the ball's not coming to
me' or whatever.  And you saw out there how we were
running the fast break." (USA)

"This team has responded beautifully to everything I've
tried to do." (PE)

Feeling felt Fox would have a big offensive day, Rambis:
"He's had some excellent practices, and it's just a gut
feeling that he'd come in and do something offensively." (AP)

Asked why he went with Fox instead of Horry in the 2nd
half to come off the bench and matchup with Pippen, Rambis:
"I don't know if there was any logic to any of it, it was
just a feeling that I needed a punch from Rick scoring." (LAT)

"I just felt at that time, and I don't know if there was
any logic to any of it, but it was just a feeling that I
needed a punch from Rick scoring. He had struggled
earlier (in the season), but as of late we spent some
time working on his shot and he feels very good about
himself right now." (LBPT, LADN)

"But Rick did an absolutely fabulous job. All the players
have been so receptive. I just felt at that time, and I
don't know if there is a logic to it, that I needed a
scoring punch from Rick." (OCR)

Praising Fox's play in this game, Rambis said:
"He did an absolutely fabulous job." (LBPT, LADN)

About having Eddie and Harper sit out the bulk of the 2nd
half since Fox and Fisher were playing so well, Rambis:
"I wanted to explain to Eddie and Derek Harper, I mean,
'Hey, I hope you guys understand, the guys are on a roll
out there, so I'm just going to leave them in.' And they
were, 'Oh, absolutely! That's the right thing to do.
Just let them go.' And that type of attitude is going to
go a long way." (LAT)

"The guys have had an unbelievable attitude. Nobody has
been complaining about not getting the ball. At one
point, I explained to Eddie Jones and Derek Harper that
I wanted to leave the other guys in the game because
things were going well, and they both said,
'Absolutely.' " (OCR)

"I went and wanted to explain to Eddie (Jones) and Derek
Harper, 'Hey, I hope you guys understand these guys are
on a roll, so I'm just going to leave them in.' And they
said, 'Oh, absolutely. That's just the right thing to do.
Just let them go.' And that kind of attitude will go a
long way." (HC)

Very happy with Rodman's play, Rambis said:
"I'm happy with everything that Dennis has brought to us
and the things that he's doing. He's doing exactly what
we thought he could do, everything he had been doing
throughout his career." (LAT)

Planning on bringing Rodman off the bench, Rambis said:
"Unless something happens to change my thought process,
I plan on bringing him off the bench. I had a small
talk with him after practice [on Saturday], and he said
that it's up to me if it happens. I like what he brings
off the bench. I think it's important for teams to have
spark coming off the bench, and he brings that spark to
the crowd and that e***ment that only 'the Worm' can
bring to a game." (LAT, LADN)

Upset with all of the attention that Rodman's tardiness
to Saturday's practice got, Rambis said:
"You guys are making an unbelievably big deal out of
stuff that I don't find to be a big deal. It's just
something that we knew we were going to have to deal
with. . . . But I'm not going to flip out every time
something like this happens. . . . When you guys are
late for work, does everybody send out memos?" (LAT)

"You guys (reporters) are making an unbelievably big
deal out of something that I don't think is a big deal.
We've made accommodations for players here in the past.
As long as he produces on the court, that's the impor-
tant thing. I'm not going to flip out over something
like this." (OCR)

"You guys are making an unbelievably big deal out of
something that I don't find to be a big deal. It's just
something we knew we were going to have to deal with.
We have made accommodations for several ballplayers on
this team to make them feel at home and comfortable.
What's important is what they're doing out on the
basketball court for us.  I'm not gonna flip out every
time something like that happens." (LADN)

About why he has tried to get everyone to have a
positive attitude, Rambis said:
"Everybody plays better, much better, when they feel
good about themselves." (RPE)

About getting their running game going, Rambis said:
"To run, you have to develop a running mentality, an
attitude. The guys have the aptitude for it. I'm
telling them, 'When the shot goes up, you've got to be
***ed and ready to fly.' " (RPE)
Note: This game began probably the most difficult stretch
of games on the Lakers' schedule.  Houston on Sunday,
Phoenix on Monday, Phoenix on Wednesday, Seattle on
Friday, and Utah next Sunday.

Asked about Jordan being at the game, Rodman said:
"There were not special feelings. I knew he was going
to be here.  We are grown men and we know each other as
individuals and we know our feeling towards each other.
Scottie wants to win bad and Michael is here because the
NBA wants the hype.  The NBA is doing what they can to
keep hype and energy and love in this game right now."

After telling Rambis that he was okay with coming off
the bench (leaving Knight at starting PF), Rodman said:
"He (Rambis) knows his players have to go out there and
split time, and you have to be unselfish to win games.
If you want to be a good basketball team, then you have
to be unselfish. You have to bite your tongue and your
pride and just go out there and win." (AP, LBPT, HC, LADN)

About what he has brought to the Lakers, Rodman said:
"I'm bringing e***ment, a lot of hustle and
leadership, and I never thought I'd say that." (CT)

About passing out of the double-team all game, Shaq:
"I'm capable of scoring 30-40 a night, but I just want
to be the best team player. I was doubled all night and
I just kicked it out to my guys and they hit some shots.
Rick played an unbelievable game and that's what it is
going to take for us to get to the next level --
everyone playing well." (USA)

"We're having fun and playing a lot looser. We are going
to more options instead of doing what everybody expects
us to do." (LADN)

Asked if the game felt like a Bulls' reunion, Shaq:
"This is my house. That was last year. This is a new
year." (LAT, SJMN, OCR)

About their 3-game winning streak, Shaq said:
"We were tired of messing around. It was time to do
something." (LAT, SJMN)

About his struggles to come back from his injury, Fox:
"It's been tough. It takes time for everybody to find
some kind of rhythm.  The last few games I have felt a
lot better than I have in the first few weeks. Dealing
with injuries is kind of tough, but I am going to stick
it out and try and be as prepared as I can for coach
(Kurt) Rambis and the rest of the team." (USA)

About his 21 second half points, Fox said:
"I tried to play as smart as I could and be as effective
on the defensive end. The shots and the openings were
there.  I think with the fact that I wasn't in the game
in the first half, nobody really paid any attention to
me.  That allowed me to get open and to shoot the ball
the way that I did." (USA)

About not playing until 6:40 remained in the 3rd, Fox:
"That's the coach's decision. I can only be prepared.
Yeah, I'd love to be in there as much as I can, all 48
minutes. I wasn't sure I was going to play. I was
watching the game, trying to be ready. I know it wasn't
going to help if I got down on myself." (AP, HC)

"I'm ready to play 48 minutes or five minutes or two
minutes or just sit there and cheer. I know what I'm
capable of doing and whenever he asks me to go out
there and perform I'll be ready. . . . I wasn't sure
if I was going to get to play. I was more or less
watching the game and being ready. I kept telling
myself to keep mentally in the game because a lot of
strange things happen." (LBPT, LADN)

"I didn't know if I was going to get to play. But I
knew it wasn't going to help if I got down on myself
and lost my focus. It's a coach's decision. Sure,
I'd like to play 48 minutes, but it's all about
winning." (OCR)
Note: Fox added that his foot is still a concern and
he understands if Rambis uses him judiciously.

About pumping his***after his 2nd 3-pt shot, Fox:
"You know, your actions are going to speak louder than
anything else you do. [The fist-pump] was an expression
of, 'Yeah, I was able to get something.' " (LAT)
Note: Fox was 7/7 in FG shooting during his 19 minutes
He was 5/5 from 3-pt range. This was his first Lakers
game in which he sat out the first half while healthy.

Informed about Barkley's criticism of them, Fox said:
"Charles has always been honest. Sometimes he's right.
We'll get to see if he's right this time." (OCR)

About Jordan sitting a few seats away from the Rockets
bench, Fox said:
"We were worried there, wondering if he was going to jump
off the bench and check himself into the game because you
know which team he would have joined." (OCR)

Hoping that they have turned the corner, Fox said:
"We didn't play Lakers basketball. Hopefully that's at an
end now. For the most part, we're an exciting team to
watch. We're not the smartest or best right now, but we
have a vision we're going to be. There have been a lot of
distractions the last few weeks. So whether we're the best
team or not, people want to see what's going on." (CT)

Praising Fox and Rambis, Eddie:
"You know that Rick is a guy that is going to give his
all. If he gets the shots, he is going to take the shots.
Kurt let us know that if we were open, to take the shots.
That builds confidence in the locker room." (USA)

About how Rodman and Rambis have energized them, Eddie:
"Dennis brings a lot of energy -- and so does the new
coach. When you've got something new, you're gonna be
energized. It's like when my daughter got a new bike.
She rode it all day." (RPE)

About their unselfish attitude, Eddie said:
"We've totally changed our style. We've gone from being
a selfish team to a team that sacrifices and is unself-
ish. . . .If a guy's going good, I don't mind sitting on
the bench. You know, I think it's right. It's an
unselfish thing to do if a guy sees that one of his
teammates is playing really well. If he gets tired,
then I'll go in. I think it brings team cohesiveness,
more than anything, to have guys sacrificing for each
other." (LAT)

"We've certainly changed our focus from being a selfish
team to being an unselfish team." (OCR)

Offering an explanation about their new attitude, Eddie:
"Guys don't want to seem like it's them that's the
problem, <so> guys are making the extra effort." (LADN)

Pointing to the players-only meeting that Harper called
after their 0-3 road trip as the team's emotional
turning point, Eddie said:
"I think the meeting that we had in Vancouver was really
big for us, to break out all of the demons that we had,
and to make the record straight on what we needed to
do." (LAT)

About the importance of their running game, Eddie:
"It's very important for us to play an uptempo game --
when we run, we tire teams out. That goes for everybody
on the team but Derek Harper, the old man." (RPE)
Note: Eddie was smiling while razzing Harper.

Asked again about the Rice trade, Eddie said:
"If they're gonna do it, then do it. We've got something
going here, and I'd like to be part of it. But I'm
really tired of this." (RPE)

About their improved passing in this game, Kobe said:
"We're just figuring out that if we make the extra pass,
somebody is going to get a wide-open shot. The more we
do it, the more it will become second nature for us." (OCR)

About possibly his best game of the season, Fisher:
"Today I felt as confident as I have all season. Today
was a big step." (LBPT, LADN)

After the game, Dyan Cannon said:
"Whoooo! It's like we've got a whole new club." (LAT)

Expecting the "Bad Rodmn" to emerge eventually, David
Halberstam, author of a book on Jordan said:
"He'll be on his best behavior for a couple of games,
eager to please and to prove everyone's wrong about him,
but eventually he'll go back to what we've seen because
that kind of person bores him. He's more volatile today
than earlier in his career and no amount of success or
public adulation will fill that essential hole within
him. That hole may push you to succeed, but it never
gets filled. His binge drinking will catch up with him
and his behavior will get more and more erratic. There
were times when Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan really
had to sit him down and talk to him about it. He's not
someone who can take care of himself." (LADN)
Note: Halberstam said that NBA beat-writer friends
have told him that Rodman's selfishness will get the
best of everyone eventually.

About how the Bulls didn't have a problem with Rodman
in their practices, Bulls GM Jerry Krause said:
"We didn't have a problem with him in practice. That
was one of the biggest misperceptions while he was
here. He missed very few practices. He was always on
the verge of just getting fined -- he'd show up two
minutes before. But he didn't (routinely) miss
practices and nobody ever covered for him while he
was here." (LADN)

A CT source states that Phil Jackson won't consider
coaching the Lakers next year if Rodman is on the team.
Another CT source said about Rodman:
"As if it isn't bad enough that Dennis drinks too much,
now he has an owner who loves to party just as hard as
he does." (CT)

Assistant Professor, Santa Clara University
Shameless plug: http://SportToday.org/

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