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If Dennis Shuts Up, Do You Suppose We Can Play Some Ball?

After three days on the road, I think I’ve finally got a feel for it. It’s Chicago in six, but you probably had that figured. What I see now is what a clash of cultures this NBA championship series really is.

For starters, the competing cities are worlds apart.

Chicago is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here.

Salt Lake City is a great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit there.

Salt Lake City would roll up the sidewalks at 11 except the people who do that are in bed by 8:30.

The best of Chicago is Michael Jordan, His Airness.

The best of Utah is the quiet professionalism of John Stockton, His Squareness.

This week, inserted in the tranquil shadow of the Wasatch Range, more than slightly out of place, was the Bulls’ Dennis Rodman, His Wormness.

If he ever finds himself in Salt Lake City again, he might remember that the local columnist referred to the Utah Jazz this week as those “little old hoop plowboys from Brigham’s bailiwick.”

Try finding that in the Chicago Tribune.

Now that the NBA has fined Rodman $50,000 and Rodman has apologized, sort of, for this week’s derogatory mutterings about people of Mormon faith, maybe we can get back to the game.

Lighter in the wallet, warned to say something right if he says anything at all, Dennis will probably behave in tonight’s sixth and maybe final game of these NBA playoffs. But what then?

He could stay busy well into the next century looking for a special shoe that slides easily in and out out of his mouth, but that’d be too much like work.

Movies? If he has a future in films why is “Double Team,” his flick with Jean-Claude Van Damme, playing to yawns? The movie has grossed $10.8 million since its April 4 premier but compare that to the $18.9 million Shaquille O’Neal’s “Kazaam” has done since its July release and you see that when it comes to box office, Dennis Rodman is not exactly Dennis Hopper, or even Dennis Weaver.

It’s not fair to hold anybody to Jordan standards, so “Double Team” doesn’t have to stand up to the $200 million Jordan’s “Space Jam” has generated since mid-November, but there it is again. Jordan doing it right, Dennis coming to a video store near you doing it his way.

You know, I didn’t notice Rodman in “Space Jam.” It’s the only jam he hasn’t been in since he showed up in Chicago.

A rumor circulating this week had it that the Bulls had sent Dennis in for counseling.

Great, but where do you start? If outrageous were measured in decibels, Rodman would open at 100.

Yes, after a couple of days with the media horde the message is loud and clear. If I were Dennis, I’d start looking not only for a different second income but another profession.

His numbers in Wednesday night’s 90-88 win over the Jazz are fairly typical. Seven rebounds, two points, six fouls and 1.5 distractions a game.

It’s not enough to justify the grief.

So let me advance another guess that probably occurred to you.

This, tonight, is the last gasp of a colorful career. Once the toast of Detroit in the championship moments of the Pistons, Dennis Rodman at 36 is about to become toast in Chicago.

So didn’t you feel just a little sorry for him Thursday when he delivered his apology to Mormons? I know I tried. I listened for sincerity, hoping that somehow the light would come on.

If it did, I missed it.

Then I really never had a clue of why he would choose this week to start muttering about (expletive) Mormons, within earshot of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Bulls coach Phil Jackson has since suggested that perhaps Dennis considered Mormon just a nickname for the people of Utah.

Welllll, I’m not sure that clears it up, but at least the league, the club, the coach and the Worm took a stab at it.

It’s not good enough but it’ll have to do.

After tonight it won’t matter.

, DataTimes