Stern calls meeting with Rodman 'constructive'

NEW YORK -- Chicago Bulls forward Dennis Rodman, currently serving a suspension through the All-Star game for kicking a cameraman, stated his case before NBA commissioner David Stern on Friday.

Rodman has sat out seven of the minimum 11-game suspension and Friday's meeting at league headquarters will help determine when he will return.

"The meeting was constructive," Stern said, "and I will decide next week whether or not Dennis will return following the All-Star Break."

Rodman was suspended for kicking courtside cameraman Eugene Amos during a 112-102 victory at Minnesota on Jan. 15. Rodman was also fined $25,000 for his actions and directed to undergo psychiatric counseling. Rodman agreed to a $200,000 out-of-court settlement with Amos.

Also present at Friday's meeting were Russ Granik, NBA deputy commissioner; William Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Association; Dwight Manley, Rodman's agent; and Atlanta psychiatrist Dr. Lloyd Baccus, medical director of the NBA/NBAPA Player Assistance program.

"The commissioner respected him for being him,'' Manley said. "One of his first comment was, 'I don't think you're crazy.' He made comments that the league needs Dennis, appreciates Dennis."

However, Stern remained ... well, stern.

"The commissioner made it clear that the consequences for future incidents will be very severe," Manley said.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson was not in attendance Friday. Jackson said earlier this week he had counseled Rodman and wanted to be part of the process.

Despite Stern's insistence, Rodman reportedly has said he does not believe he will go for counseling.

"I'm not crazy. I'm not like that character from 'Silence of the Lambs,' Hannibal Lecter, who has to sit in some cage and people say, 'You can watch Dennis Rodman, but don't get too close,'" the Chicago Tribune quoted Rodman as saying.

Manley said earlier it should be up to Rodman if he undergoes counseling.

"The league doesn't have that authority,'' Manley said.

The suspension is the second longest in NBA history, second only to the 26-game ban given to Kermit Washington of the Los Angeles Lakers for punching Rudy Tomjanovich of Houston in 1977.

It is the second suspension of the season for Rodman, who served a two-game, team-imposed suspension earlier this season for a profanity-laced tirade after a Dec. 8 loss at Toronto. That suspension cost him $219,512, or 2/82nd of his 1996-97 salary of $9 million.

The five-time rebounding champion with the multicolored hair and multiple tattoos has had numerous run-ins with officials, including the head-butting of referee Ted Bernhardt last March at New Jersey that earned him a six-game suspension. Upon his return, he kept his emotions in check and helped lead Chicago to a record 72-10 mark and its fourth championship in six years.

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