Laettner Dealt When He Fails to Apologize to KG, Team

February 25, 1996

Would Christian Laettner still be a Timberwolf had he apologized for his criticism of rookie Kevin Garnett?

Based on Laettner's history of not repenting, he was probably earmarked for departure anyway.

Laettner, traded with Sean Rooks to Atlanta for Spud Webb and Andrew Lang on Thursday, had two opportunities to apologize during a team meeting at Detroit on Monday morning. Wolves coach/general manager Flip Saunders hoped to clear the air before that night's game against the Pistons.

The floor was open for discussion about the team's sagging chemistry with Laettner's comments the previous night as a main topic. Saunders asked Laettner if he had anything to say. Laettner passed. Doug West stood up and asked Laettner if he had anything to say. Laettner passed again.

Two years ago, Laettner told reporters after a loss at New Jersey that the Wolves "stink," played "horrible" and "changes need to be made." The comments irritated head coach Sidney Lowe and general manager Jack McCloskey. Both tried unsuccessfully to get Laettner to apologize to the team.

"I don't feel the need to apologize for what I said," Laettner said two days after the New Jersey game. "We should be apologizing to the city for how bad we've been for five years."

He might have a point there. This is year No. 7, and the Wolves are still struggling. At least they won't have to wonder anymore if Laettner actually knows how to say "I'm sorry."

Chicago's finest

Chicago is touting a new set of heroes - "Superman," "Batman" and "Rodman."

In the Bulls' victory last Sunday at Indiana, Michael Jordan scored 44 points, Scottie Pippen had 40 and Dennis Rodman grabbed 23 rebounds. The performance served as a preview of a solid 1-2-3 punch the Bulls could have in the playoffs.

"I think we are some of the best players to play the game," Pippen said. "Michael is the greatest scorer and Dennis is the greatest rebounder. I'm just fitting in."

What some folks would like to know is why does Pippen have the "Batman" nickname?

Did you know?

Houston forward Robert Horry sank nine three-pointers against Cleveland on Thursday, one shy of an NBA record.

The single-game record is 10 shared by Dallas' George McCloud, Detroit's Joe Dumars and Orlando's Brian Shaw.

Follow the leader?

There's a Texas version of the Laettner-Garnett feud. The Mavericks' Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson traded words after Kidd said he believed he should be the team's leader.

Jackson, a fourth-year veteran and a member of the NBA Players Association's executive board, took exception to Kidd's assumption.

"Wherever that came from, that's his opinion," Jackson said of the second-year point guard. "If he wants to buy his own boat, let him buy it. Buy 20 of them. Buy a yacht. I hope he has an anchor and some life rafts."

Jackson evidently doesn't plan on sailing with the Mavericks if Kidd is the "captain" of the ship.

How many more feuds can this team stand? After last year's remarkable turnaround and late-season playoff run, the Mavs figured to be one of the most interesting teams of the 1995-96 season. Not only is Jamal Mashburn out for the season after knee surgery, but he also has been involved in spats with Kidd and Jackson.

Jackson also had a halftime run-in with teammate Scott Brooks during a recent game at Utah.

These youngsters might be too much for 64-year-old coach Dick Motta to handle.

The Garnett factor

Don't be alarmed by the increasing trend of NBA teams scouting high school players. Garnett's jump from high school to the NBA has some teams looking at youngsters.

"Sure, we are," Vancouver general manager Stu Jackson said of keeping an eye on high-schoolers. "We do so because of the increasing numbers of high-schoolers considering, and I emphasize considering, making the jump to the NBA."

Jackson admitted his staff has scouted the top high school prospects: 6-foot-10 forward Tim Thomas of East Paterson (N.J.) Catholic, 6-6 point guard Kobe Bryant (son of former NBA player Joe Bryant) of Lower Merion, Pa., and 6-11 Jermaine O'Neal of Columbia, S.C.

Word around the league is some teams are taking a peek at guard Ronnie Fields, Garnett's teammate and best friend at Chicago's Farragut Academy. Six NBA scouts were spotted at one of Thomas' games in late December.

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