Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf insisted again Friday night he's in no hurry to break the team apart -- if it wins another championship.
"I certainly hope that if we win that this is not the end of this run," Reinsdorf said in an NBC interview.
"Of course it's not totally up to me. Michael (Jordan) and Scottie (Pippen) and seven other players are free agents and they have their own decisions to make," Reinsdorf said.
"But I don't want to be the person who breaks up the Chicago Bulls as long as they are winning championships."
Reinsdorf said he plans to talk with Pippen, who said earlier this week he wasn't coming back. But he can't do it until after July 1 and by that time a lockout could be in place.
Reinsdorf said there are no stipulations for Jordan's return, as far as he knows. Jordan said earlier he only wanted to play for coach Phil Jackson but has softened that stance.
"What Michael has said to me is that he wants to take time over the summer to decide what he wants to do," Reinsdorf said.
"Obviously Scottie Pippen is very very important to Michael because he knows Scottie is a perfect complement to him. And I think if Scottie were not to return that might have an impact on Michael's decision."
Jackson didn't want to discuss it, especially after the Bulls were beaten 83-81 by the Jazz.
"I don't think it's time to talk about it right now. It's a moot point (until) after the championships. There is nothing to be said."
Nice HandsJazz coach Jerry Sloan had a simple explanation for starting Antonie Carr in the second half. His hands.
"No. 1 he was able to catch a basketball," Sloan said."We had a tremendously tough time trying to catch the ball when we were trying to drive to the basket," Sloan explained of his 14-year veteran. Carr scored eight of his 12 points in the final quarter.
"The way they were playing Karl (Malone), we just needed to have somebody step up," Sloan said.
NumbersThe Bulls' loss means no home team has swept the middle three games since the format was adopted for the 1985 finals. ... Toni Kukoc's 30 points were a playoff high. Karl Malone's 39 was his highest total ever in the finals. ... The Bulls had won eight straight home games in the finals until Friday night. ... The city of Chicago sent 8,000 police officers to the street to control crowds in anticipation of the Bulls winning a sixth NBA title.
Cute?Michael Jordan described the final seconds of Friday night's loss in a strange way: It was cute.
"I had some funny thoughts actually," Jordan said after his last-second 3-pointer was short as the Bulls fell 83-81 to the Jazz.
"No one knew what was going to happen. Everybody thought I would make a shot. The unexpected finish of an NBA game. I thought that was cute just thinking about it," said Jordan, known throughout his career for hitting gam-winning shots.
Good buddiesComrades, teammates and practice adversaries who share five NBA titles together. Soon, maybe a sixth.
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen could go their separate ways after the NBA Finals, bringing to an end one of the great tandems in league history.
"They are close friends and they love this game," guard Ron Harper said. "When they go into practice, they talk so much trash it's embarrassing and they go at each other all the time, too."
"They are good for this team and good for each other, too."
Has Pippen been as important against the Utah Jazz as Jordan? Jordan's done more scoring, as usual. But Pippen's defense, as it was against Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals, has been a key for the Bulls.
"I just see us as a basketball team. We don't talk about who can outdo who," Harper said."We just go out and play as a basketball team. They are very close friends and they don't care (who's been most valuable.)"
Harper said he doesn't expect Pippen to return to the Bulls. He also thinks Jordan can name his price to come back.
"Michael will make as much money as he wants in this game if he chooses to play this game," Harper said."I don't know what team wants to pay for it."
Bulls coach Phil Jackson said he was watching the Bulls' 1993 finals against Phoenix on TV recently and was amazed to see what a difference five years can make, even with Pippen and Jordan.
"Just how athletic they were at one time," Jackson said."They are still great athletes but much has been diminished by injuries and age. Scottie is still so terrific in his speed and anticipation. He's always there. He's always harassing."
For Stock And KarlTo make their Hall of Fame careers complete, Utah stars Karl Malone and John Stockton want a championship ring. No surprise there.
But their teammates want one for them just as badly.
"It would be a shame for them not to take a ring into the Hall of Fame with them," Antoine Carr said."Because they really deserve rings."
Carr did his part Friday night, scoring 12 points in the Jazz victory that cut the Bulls' lead to 3-2.
Adam Keefe put it this way:"Nothing is free. You don't get the ring because you're a nice guy or a good member of the community or a great player.
"The Hall of Fame is full of great players who never won an NBA ring. So they know that and they don't expect to be given rings. They aren't owed rings by anybody. They know the only way they're going to get one is to go out and take it."
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved