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Bulls Interview Ron Rothstein

July 11, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) _ When Cleveland assistant Ron Rothstein got the call that the Chicago Bulls wanted to talk to him about their coaching job, he figured it would be a typical interview.

Go in, talk about the job, talk about backgrounds and be done with it. Well, not exactly.

The Bulls are trying to replace a coach who won six NBA titles in eight years, and they’re not leaving anything to chance. When Rothstein met with Bulls officials last week, the meeting lasted almost an entire afternoon. Both chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause were involved.

``There were a couple of surprises along the way,″ Rothstein told The Associated Press on Friday from Cleveland. ``It was in-depth and very thorough.″

The Bulls have at least five people on their short list to replace Phil Jackson, who left almost three weeks ago. In addition to Rothstein, they are Iowa State coach Tim Floyd and current NBA assistants Rick Carlisle (Indiana), Paul Silas (Charlotte) and Scott Skiles (Phoenix).

Skiles was scheduled to interview today.

Forget the short list, Dennis Rodman told the Chicago Tribune. The players want current Bulls assistant Frank Hamblen, who said earlier this week that he is not and never was a candidate. Hamblen, a 27-year coaching veteran, has been a Chicago assistant the past two seasons.

Rodman said he spoke with Michael Jordan earlier this week, and they agreed Hamblen is the right man.

``He’s been there,″ Rodman told the Tribune for a story in today’s editions. ``He knows what’s going on. He knows what we do. He knows us and we know him. I think everybody would be comfortable with that.″

Jordan, Rodman and Scottie Pippen all are free agents. Who the Bulls hire could play a large role in determining whether any or all of the three return.

``Tim Floyd? That’s a joke,″ Rodman said. ``We really don’t need a coach, but if we have to have one, Frank would be the best candidate. If he’s not a candidate, he should be. He should be the man.″

Rothstein wouldn’t elaborate on his interview. Asked if there was talk about the futures of Jordan, Pippen and Rodman, he said he couldn’t comment.

Rothstein also said no timetable was given on when a decision would be made, and he doesn’t know if there will be additional interviews.

``All I know is I was told they would be back in touch,″ he said. ``Obviously, they don’t want to drag this out forever, but they don’t want to rush things, either.″

Rothstein has a reputation as a defensive specialist. He’s spent the past five seasons as the top assistant in Cleveland, which was fourth in the league in opponents scoring average (89.8 points a game).

He also was Detroit coach Chuck Daly’s top assistant from 1986-88 _ he and Rodman joined the Pistons the same year _ and is credited with helping create the defense that was instrumental in the Pistons’ championship runs in 1989 and 1990.

Rothstein began his NBA career in 1979 as a scout, and was first hired as an assistant in 1983 by then-Atlanta coach Mike Fratello. After his stint in Detroit, Rothstein was hired in July 1988 to be the Miami Heat’s first coach.

He spent three seasons with the Heat, returning to Detroit as a commentator during the 1991-92 season. He became the Pistons head coach in 1992, moving to Cleveland the following year.

While Rothstein said it’s premature to talk about the job, he knows that if he gets it, it won’t be an easy one.

``How do you top what Phil did?″ he asked. ``If Michael and Scottie and Dennis come back and if you don’t repeat, then you haven’t done a good job. And if they don’t come back, you’re rebuilding and that’s always a difficult thing.″

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