Timeout has been called late in the third quarter, the Bulls are
huddling on the floor, and fans at Chicago's United Center are
loudly chanting, "Go! Go! Go!" Alas, the cheering is not for the
Terri-Bulls, those Central Division doormats. The real
excitement--in fact, the only excitement of the night--is being
provided by a scoreboard race between Biggie Bagel and Dashing
Donut. When Biggie noses out Dashing at the finish, the sellout
crowd gives the bagel a standing O. "In a way, bagels have it
easier than players," says Will Perdue, Chicago's 7-foot cruller
of a center. "If a fan doesn't like a bagel, he doesn't eat it.
If a fan doesn't like a player, he shouts obscenities."
Since returning to the Bulls last August after four years in San
Antonio, the 34-year-old Perdue has been cursed more than Boris
Karloff was in The Mummy. Shooting at career-low averages from
the field (35.6%) and the foul line (45.5%) through Sunday, the
onetime caddie for All-Stars David Robinson and Tim Duncan has
become a backup to a backup, slotted behind no-names Dickey
Simpkins and Chris Anstey and playing just 15.5 minutes a game.
"Some of the words fans yell at me are not bad--I even agree
with them," says Perdue, a reserve during the Bulls' first
championship three-peat. "It's just that some of the adjectives
they put between those words are not very flattering."
Among active players, only Scottie Pippen has more championship
rings than Perdue, who won his fourth last June with the Spurs.
He turned down a guaranteed three-year, $10.1 million offer from
San Antonio to accept a two-year, $10.1 million deal with
Chicago, which guaranteed only the $5.3 million for this season.
Perhaps not coincidentally, that sum helped the Bulls exceed the
league-mandated minimum payroll of $25.5 million. "I wanted Will
back because he's a good passer and a great screen setter," says
Chicago vice president of basketball operations Jerry Krause,
who drafted Perdue out of Vanderbilt in 1988 and traded him to
San Antonio for Dennis Rodman in '95. "He's a little clumsy, but
he's no stiff."
Perdue figured that he would get more playing time in Chicago
and also enchance his coaching prospects by helping to teach the
triple-post offense to his younger teammates. As it turned out,
he has taught it more than played it. "Like any good teacher,
Will is really organized--he's a human Filofax," says Bulls
guard B.J. Armstrong. "Nobody's neater. He hangs his underwear
in his locker, folds his jockstrap, even separates his peas and
carrots on his plate."
"For the most part, B.J.'s right," Perdue says, "but I don't
fold my jockstrap."
Playing for Chicago doesn't have quite the cachet that it once
did. In the days of Invinci-Bullity, a local Jeep dealership
offered players free use of a car in exchange for four tickets a
month. "Now it takes two tickets to every game," Perdue says.
"Back then, teams didn't want to face us out of fear they'd
lose. Today, they don't want to out of fear we'll win."