Facebook Twitter



Wars end by truce and surrender, or in the case of the Bulls and Knicks, by calendar.

While the NBA, NBC and every time zone that doesn't have its own desert might prefer to just have these two teams carry on, the Bulls must leave the Knicks behind and get on with their mission.Addressing his gambling forays, Michael Jordan said he was disappointed that his "off-the-court activities are receiving more attention in the midst of the NBA championship than my on-court activities."

Not to pick too much nit, but this was not the NBA championship, but only the Eastern Conference finals. Jordan must not be too worried about those folks out west.

What you wonder is what the worry was all about. The Knicks were not nearly the thugs they were even in last year's semifinals.

Except for brief lapses of social responsibility by John Starks, the Knicks were at least as polite as your average New York cabbie, and better washed.

If you had to pick a brute in this series, it would be Scottie Pippen.

It may be time to give Pippen an adult name, something to reflect the new wax in his wick. You can't call the thundering menace of these playoffs Scottie, or even Scott, which belongs to somebody who wears a pocket protector.

This is a man who will take the lane and the blows and with either endless patience or indifference he has always been tough. Thinking he isn't is your problem, not his.

Pippen has been not only the most valuable player in the Knicks series, but the most obvious hardhat, from the obvious foul he gave to Doc Rivers in Game 1, through the emphatic pass he gave referee Bill Oaks in Game 2, to taking a charge from Starks in Game 6.

This last bit of courage is particularly noteworthy because any contact with Starks requires an immediate inoculation.

Pippen needs a Chicago name, like Lugwrench or Nails. Pipebomb Pippen. That might fly. Timex is too trite, though this man has been taking a licking and . . . well, you know the rest.

Pippen was the soft spot, the place where the Knicks were going to whack first. They knew they couldn't destroy the heart of the beast, Jordan, but maybe they could kill the head, which has been, at other times, empty or achy.

"I've got two rings and I'm trying to get a third," Pippen was saying after saving Game 5 with defense, just as he had saved Game 4 with a single second-half basket at least as important as all those raining down from Jordan. "None of that other stuff matters."

Pippen may always be a man with something to prove. He is Tonto to the Lone Ranger, Che to Fidel, Art Garfunkel to Paul Simon.

But he is also the reason the Bulls are moving on to another NBA Finals.

Madonna was in attendance Friday night, causing nearly the same stir as Michael himself, and no one even bothered to ask if she had a gambling problem.