Cheap Seats

TUESDAY, DEC. 24, 1996

Tick, tick, tick

New York forward Charles Oakley, who remains close with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen from his days as a Bull, told his Knicks teammates that Dennis Rodman, before he was suspended, cursed out Chicago players in the Bulls’ locker room. Prompting Knicks guard John “TNT” Starks to say, “He’s a ticking time bomb.”

Patrick Ewing did a double-take. “Let me get this straight,” Ewing asked Starks, “you’re calling somebody else a ticking time bomb?”

That sinking feeling

When the Phoenix Suns started 0-13, new coach Danny Ainge knew he could always find reassurance from friends like Charles Barkley. Or maybe not.

“I called him Ed Smith,” Barkley said. “That was the guy who was captain of the Titanic.”

Not that the slow start was a shock. Half the players were new, and Barkley had been traded to Houston. “No wonder they’re having problems,” Barkley piled on. “Their best shooter is their coach.”

Ainge is used to the ribbing. He was among the NBA’s most hated players as a member of the 1980s Boston Celtics. Heck, even Larry Bird and Kevin McHale had trouble accepting him.

“When Red Auerbach signed him,” recalled M.L. Carr, now Boston’s coach, “I sat him on my couch, and I said, ‘You’re a bona fide shooter, and you have to remember why Red came and got you. Pete Maravich and Jerry West got in the Hall of Fame by shooting the ball, and you’ve got to shoot the ball, too.’

“Well, Larry and Kevin wondered why I ever told him that. Kevin would say, ‘I’m shooting 60 percent and he’s shooting 40 percent, and I see all these missiles flying over my head.’ And Danny’s response would be, ‘Get it off the rebound.”’

Family man who kisses and tells

St. Louis Rams linebacker Robert Jones, who played three seasons at Dallas, has no great admiration for the Cowboys.

“There were certain guys I couldn’t get along with because of the way I carried myself as a husband, as a father, and as a player on the team,” said Jones. “The attitude with the Dallas Cowboys, and I hate to say it, is that if you can’t do what the rest of those guys do off the field, it’s like you’re not included.”

When Jimmy Johnson benched him in 1993, Jones recalls, “Jimmy said to me, and this is verbatim - I’ll never forget it to the day I die - he said, ‘Robert, I think you are distracted by your wife and child.”’

As for various of his former colleagues, Jones said:

“Michael Irvin. On the field, I respect him. He’s a great player. Charles Haley, all of those guys. They’re great players on the field, but off the field, I have no respect for them. I’ve seen some things on that team that would shock you.”

A heartfelt tale out of Arkansas

An Arkansas football player who sat out the season with a heart problem is accused of stealing and pawning $500 worth of golf clubs. According to Fayetteville police, 22-year-old Tyrone Henry stole the clubs from a garage two weeks ago.

Henry left the team in August because of chest pains. He checked into a hospital and later told the team that he had an enlarged heart.

To say nothing of an enlarged wallet.

The last word …

“I would rather watch ‘Gilligan’s Island’ than a regular-season NBA game.”

- Fresno State coach Jerry Tarkanian

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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