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Rodman fined $50,000; says he’s sorry for Mormon comments

June 13, 1997 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) _ Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls was fined a record $50,000 on Thursday for derogatory comments about Mormons made during the National Basketball Association finals.

The fine, which followed Rodman’s apology, was the largest in the history of the NBA and the third time the league has come down on Rodman this season.

``I have indicated in previous actions that insensitive or derogatory comments involving race or other classifications are unacceptable in the NBA,″ commissioner David Stern said. ``Dennis Rodman’s comments were exactly the kind of offensive remarks that cannot be tolerated or excused.″


In January, Rodman was fined a then-record $25,000 and suspended 11 games _ losing more than $1 million in salary _ for kicking a courtside photographer. Stern warned Rodman then that additional bad behavior could get him thrown out of the league.

Two months later, he was fined another $7,500 for striking Joe Wolf of the Milwaukee Bucks in the groin.

The Bulls are defending their NBA championship against the Utah Jazz. They are up three games to two, and can wrap up the best-of-seven series Friday night in Chicago.

Rodman has been making off-color comments about Mormons since the series started. After Game 3 last Friday in Salt Lake City, he explained his poor play by saying: ``It’s difficult to get in sync because of all the (expletive) Mormons out here. And you can quote me on that.″

He essentially repeated the comments when asked about the subject later and refused to apologize until Thursday, when a penalty was pending.

``That was a bad action on my part. So we retract that,″ Rodman said.

He insisted that he didn’t mean to insult an entire religion, saying he was unhappy with Jazz fans in Salt Lake City.

``The people were giving me the finger and things like that,″ he said.

The Salt Lake City branch of the NAACP said it was ``outraged by the insensitive and derogatory remarks by Dennis Rodman.″ The Anti-Defamation League also called on the Bulls to take immediate action against Rodman.

``To Dennis, a Mormon may just be a nickname for people from Utah. He may not even know it’s a religious cult or sect or whatever it is,″ Bulls coach Phil Jackson said Thursday.